Boris Johnson has promised business leaders there will be enough turkeys for everyone to enjoy their Christmas in the event of a no-deal Brexit as he attempts to build bridges with industry.
Mr Johnson, who is expected to become prime minister this week, held a private meeting with about 30 FTSE bosses in which he tried to distance himself from his infamous “f*** business” remark.
He promised chief executives and chairmen from some of Britain’s largest and best-known companies, including Lloyds, Marks & Spencer and Centrica, that he would be the “most pro-business prime minister” in history.
The bosses were told to prepare for leaving the European Union without a deal. According to one attendee, Mr Johnson said that leaving without a deal “won’t be as bad as people tell you”.
He told the group, which also included the bosses of Unilever, Ocado, BP and Royal Bank of Scotland, that there was no need to worry about food supply if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal on October 31.
Mr Johnson told Conservative Party members this month: “Do you really think this great country isn’t capable of making Christmas dinner?” He repeated a similar reassurance to the business leaders after concerns from major grocers about the impact of leaving without a deal.
At the breakfast meeting in London last week, which was first reported by The Sunday Telegraph, he said that his widely reported use of an expletive when asked about business concerns about Brexit was not an attack on wider industry. He said that his criticism was aimed at the big business lobby groups who have made repeated warnings about the dire risks associated with a no-deal Brexit.
The former foreign secretary said he understood the importance of backing business and that his three major priorities as prime minister would be infrastructure, digital connectivity and education.
The CBI is expected to say today that Brexit has stalled economic progress for three years and that it will be down to the next prime minister to swiftly “inject a new lease of life into the UK economy”.