The CBI is not the voice of business

The CBI is not the voice of business

by Brian Monteith
article from Wednesday 18, November, 2015

THE WAY too many of our broadcasters report the UK's membership of the European Union one could be forgiven for thinking that British business is firmly behind retaining the status quo. This is wrong on two counts, firstly British businesses are deeply divided over the issue, and secondly the status quo is not on offer.

It suits broadcasters, especially those that do not seek to discover the views of real entrepreneurs, to simply e-mail an organisation like the CBI. It is supposed to be the voice of business after all, but it's not. It's the voice of predominantly large corporations, taxpayer-funded public bodies, other trade associations and establishment institutions; why, even the BBC is a member.

The reality is that dynamic SMEs, entrepreneurs looking to exploit a new idea and businesses that will grow from a garage into world leaders are built by strong independent minds and are rarely herded by lobbyists such as the CBI. The future economic growth of the UK comes from people that are not afraid of risk, are willing to put their house up as collateral and work around the clock to get their product or service just right.

These are not people for filling in surveys, for fixating about never-ending volumes of regulation, they are doers, not bureaucrats. These are not the people we see on the TV news, unless like James Dyson they have become the target of an EU intent on protecting the big corporations.

Scratch the surface and you will find entrepreneurs and business leaders that are willing to speak their minds and tell it like it is. They can testify that the single market is over-rated and wholly unnecessary to secure access – just ask the Chinese or Americans who do not even have a free trade agreement with the EU.

They can explain how the costs of EU membership – both financially and in the management time given over to strength-sapping regulation are not worth the candle. And ask the most competitive companies in financial services and they will explain there is no single market in financial services to be lost.

Thirty years on since the project began and there's still no sign of it happening. Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown and now Cameron have all been in power and it still has not arrived

The Prime Minister has not even bothered to put securing a single market in financial services on his embarrassingly light list of demands. He obviously knows when he's beat.

The truth is now dawning on even the most ardent EU-phile, the whole renegotiation is a fudge, a tasteless ploy to fool the electorate that the EU can be improved. Nigel Lawson is right when he describes Cameron's timid requests as ranging "from the wholly inadequate to completely meaningless."

The EU will change, but it will mean yet more laws we have not voted for, new taxes and regulations on City businesses and further oversight and auditing  from unaccountable bureaucrats  who despise the profit motive.

The greatest leap in the dark would be to stay inside this mutating EU that will devour our business spirit. Just don't ask the CBI, if they cannot see the problems already then why should they see them in the future?

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