Europe

UK business group worried by government's Brexit comments

  • Denmark's Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen and British Prime Minister Theresa May, during a press conference after their meeting, at the Prime Minister's Resident Marienborg, north of Copenhagen, Denmark, Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. (Jens Dresling/Polfoto via AP)

    Denmark's Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen and British Prime Minister Theresa May, during a press conference after their meeting, at the Prime Minister's Resident Marienborg, north of Copenhagen, Denmark, Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. (Jens Dresling/Polfoto via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • British Prime Minister Theresa May, during a press conference after a meeting with Denmark's Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen, at the Prime Minister's Resident Marienborg, north of Copenhagen, Denmark, Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. (Jens Dresling/Polfoto via AP)

    British Prime Minister Theresa May, during a press conference after a meeting with Denmark's Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen, at the Prime Minister's Resident Marienborg, north of Copenhagen, Denmark, Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. (Jens Dresling/Polfoto via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Business groups are accusing the British government of imperiling the economy with statements suggesting the U.K. is heading for a hard divorce from the European Union.

The head of employers' group the Confederation of British Industry, Carolyn Fairbairn, said in comments published Monday that the government's stated emphasis on controlling immigration sent out "signs that the door is being closed, to an extent, on the open economy, that has helped fuel investment."

Prime Minister Theresa May said last week that Britain would seek to retain a close relationship with the bloc, but wouldn't cede control over immigration, a conflict with the EU's principle of free movement.

European leaders say that means Britain can't remain a member of the EU's tariff-free single market, an alarming prospect for many U.K. businesses.