CBI seeks Privy Council approval to extend president's stay

(c) Sky News 2017: <a href="http://news.sky.com/story/cbi-seeks-privy-council-approval-to-extend-presidents-stay-10796044">CBI seeks Privy Council approval to extend president's stay</a>

Britain's biggest employers' group is to seek Privy Council approval to extend the term of its president as it grapples with the challenges of the UK's impending exit from the European Union (EU).

Sky News‎ has learnt that the CBI has written to its members to notify them of plans to amend the bye-laws of its Supplemental Royal Charter to enable its president to serve for three years.

The move, which will require the approval of CBI members at an extraordinary general meeting in the next three weeks, would allow‎ Paul Drechsler to remain at the lobbying group's helm until the summer of 2018.

Insiders said it would be announced on Friday.

If members back the decision, it would need to be ratified by the Privy Council, which oversees such reforms‎ at bodies governed by a Royal Charter.

Mr Drechsler would then stand for re-election at the CBI's next annual meeting.

It would represent a significant governance change for the CBI, which has historically appointed presidents to serve for two years.‎

The CBI director‎-general - currently Carolyn Fairbairn - is appointed for a five-year term.

The ‎implications of last year's referendum vote, and the imminent triggering of the Article 50 process for leaving the EU, have spurred senior figures at the CBI to enable greater continuity at the top of the organisation.

The‎ CBI, which has 190,000 members encompassing businesses of all sizes, found itself at the centre of a political storm last year when it argued strongly in favour of the Remain campaign.

Its annual conference in November 2015 was ambushed by Leave campaigners while David Cameron, the then prime minister, was on the stage, and since the Brexit vote has seen prominent members such as JCB terminate their membership in protest.

Mr Drechsler is well regarded in the business community, recently using the CBI presidency to urge private sector bosses to show restraint on executive pay‎.

Last week, he warned that Brexit‎ without a trade deal would expose businesses to a "Pandora (LSE: 0NQC.L - news) 's box" of damaging economic consequences.

If the move to extend the president's term is approved, it would not ‎automatically lead to Mr Drechsler's successors serving for three years, but would give the CBI the option to enable that.

The CBI declined to comment on Thursday.