The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has urged the government to allow workers from the European Union to remain in Britain, adding British firms need to see a clear plan to deal with the Brexit vote.

Speaking at the London Evening Standard's inaugural Business Awards on Thursday night (30 June), CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn said that while there were profound concerns among business leaders, UK businesses recognised the need for a pragmatic solution.

"Companies in Britain are getting ready to get on with it," she said.

"Business leaders are moving from the shock to the questions to the plan to the action, and I see that there are three immediate priorities."

Britain's new prime minister is expected to be announced in September but Fairbairn warned that businesses could not afford to allow political uncertainty to linger for the next two months. In particular, she stressed, the government has to clarify the position of EU workers already living in Britain.

"They [EU migrants] are not a number in immigration statistics," she said.

"They are not bargaining chips. They are people who now feel unwelcome and unsafe.

"The government must confirm that those people from the EU who are already working in the UK can stay. This reassurance must be immediate and it must be unequivocal."

However, on Friday, Michael Gove, one of the five candidates to succeed David Cameron as the leader of the Conservative Party said he would cut immigration by blocking EU free movement.