When I was committed to arguing the case to keep the UK out of the Euro I found the interventions of senior corporate representatives of some large multinationals far from helpful.
Some car companies for example were in those days committed to our membership of the Euro. They told us we should join otherwise it would adversely affect their investment in the UK. They forecast an erosion of the competitive position of their UK operations over time if the UK stayed out. They told us or implied that out of the Euro the UK would lose investment and jobs as they7 would need to place new capacity and new models elsewhere.
Fortunately the main manufacturers changed their minds . The leading overseas companies continued to invest in the UK, and still believe the UK to be an excellent manufacturing base for some of their operations. I was very glad to several of them announce yet more investment for the UK recently . I am pleased they agree that the UK outside the Euro is a good place to make cars, in contrast to what some of them predicted during the Euro debates.
Other senior business people speaking for their large quoted multinationals got the Exchange Rate Mechanism totally wrong. They urged government to join it, which the UK foolishly did. Predictably it did great damage to our economy, causing first a rapid inflation then a recession. The businesses in the UK which had urged membership were often badly damaged by the results.
Before commenting on our future membership of the EU, it would be good to have an explanation from these large multinationals who got the past big European issues so wrong. They usually enlist on the EU side of the argument, whatever damage EU policies do to our economic progress.
It would be useful to have a critique from big business of the EU;’s dear energy policies, for example, or of the EU’s Euro austerity policies which have hit jobs and prosperity in many continental countries. When I led a large quoted industrial company I did not express political views as its Chairman, even though at the time I personally thought EU monetary and exchange rate polices would be very damaging and said so as an individual. Had I issued bad advice politically with my company hat on , I would have felt I should correct it for the sake of the company at a later date.