A response to the article by Carolyn Fairbairn, Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry - ‘A bad Brexit will cost Britain dear in lost business’ (Times 24th November 2017).
by our branch blogger, 'Splendid Isolation'.
Ms Fairbairn. It’s not about the money, or the jobs. It’s the sovereignty, stupid!
We (the 52%) voted for regaining control over our own country and affairs – for which the UK fought two World Wars, only for back-stabbing politicians to betray those who died for this supposedly unbreakable principle. To those who voted to remain in the EU because 12 pieces of silver mean more to them – well shame on them. There is no doubt that some businesses have delayed or cancelled new investments because of Brexit uncertainty. But others such as Siemens, Bloomberg and investors from Silicon Valley (who have more than doubled funding for UK technology companies
this year) are not as pessimistic as you or your cohorts. It depends who you talk to. You seem to only talk to naysayers and Remainers. Try talking to people like Sir Richard Dyson – top entrepreneurs. Not tax-exile, Remoaners like Sir Richard Branson.
And as for suggesting that productivity will be lower in the years ahead, Britain has had a long-term problem with productivity compared with other European countries for years. So this has nothing to do with the EU. Economists just don’t know why we perform so badly. Normarily, we’d expect an organisation such as the CBI to tell us why and how we can improve it. But don’t conflate productivity performance with EU membership.
You also say that ‘Brexit is also harming recruitment. Four in every ten businesses surveyed by the CBI say Brexit has made it harder to find and retain people.’ We say, ‘Good’. The EU’s Single Market has been harming training and investment in people for years. Businesses have been able to cut spending and effort on this and vacuum up ready-trained talent from other countries (this hurts these countries by the way). Thus British people have been denied opportunities which ordinarily they would have got. And those Brits in employment have seen their wages stagnate because rapacious bosses – your members – with their telephone number pay packets, have been able to drive down wages because of the glut in skilled, and semi-skilled, labour.
‘Crops going unpicked in Cornwall’, you say? Tell those greedy landowners and food companies happy to recruit labourers from Eastern Europe, who are prepared or forced to accept poorhouse wages and live in conditions unacceptable to British people, to pay more. And you mention ‘the public services, already struggling and now seeing fewer vital workers wanting to come to the UK - for example, a 96 per cent reduction in nurses applying to work here from the EU.’ Public services are not your remit. You’re showing your Remoaner colours here. But isn’t it the point anyway? That we must be training up British people – like we used to – to do jobs in the public services? Hopefully Brexit will force the UK to do this. The British nurse will no longer be outnumbered by non-British ones in the ward.
You talk gloomily of ‘contingency plans’ in the event of a ‘no-deal’ and of a scenario of ‘thousands of jobs leaving the UK, and in most cases irreversibly’. We say, ‘you are no Cassandra’. But you do the devil’s work by acting as the champion for the EU negotiators who want a cloud of pessimism to linger over the UK business landscape upping the pressure on the government to give them a favourable deal. Be in no doubt – this is a shake-up but a welcome one. Those businesses who cannot adapt to a New Britain will either fade away or re-locate. Good riddance. But those who can see the opportunity that Brexit offers will grasp it and profit from it. And so will Britain.
You talk of ‘rising costs for consumers’. Some costs will rise. But others, such as food will drop as we escape from the clutches of the protectionist, quota-driven EU whose barriers to entry have done so much harm to countries outside the Customs Union and kept food prices high in the UK. And you say that we can ‘build a high productivity, knowledge-led economy’ – but only if we secure a ‘good’ Brexit. By this you mean a never-ending transition deal where we are half-in, and half-out of the EU, forced to pay for access to the Single Market and abide by their trade terms and market regulations whilst prevented from having our own trade deals with other non-EU countries. That’s just not got legs.
You end by suggesting three things that are needed in order for a breakthrough at the impending European Council meeting. 1) EU citizens rights:
We say that any foreigner who comes here should abide and be governed by British laws. So EU law should not apply at all, otherwise we will not be a sovereign nation. Why should EU citizens in this country have greater rights than UK citizens? 2) Keep the Common Travel Area (CTA) between Ulster and Ireland:
Britain is very happy to commit to the status quo. The trouble is that the EU and the Eire Prime Minister Mr Varadkar won’t accept the proposal for a frictionless border, like the one that exists between Sweden (EU) and Norway (non-EU). Instead both have ‘weaponised’ this issue for negotiating purposes.3) Finally you say we need a ‘financial settlement that recognises the value of the £600 billion annual trade between the EU and the UK, with clarity from the UK’:
By ‘clarity’ you mean the UK giving in to Brussels’ outrageous demands for our divorce. No deal! We owe little aside from some pension contributions. You don't pay to leave a club. Furthermore, we’ve paid hundreds of billions of pounds over the years, of which so much has been squandered. We are broke. To the tune of £1.6 trillion national debt. Why increase it more?
It is time for you to accept the result of the EU Referendum. We voted to leave the EU and it is clear to all but the most desperate Remoaners that this means leaving the Single Market, the Customs Union and the European Court of Justice. So be a business leader for Britain and not a cheerleader for the bullying EU.