The CBI and the EU

Yesterday’s letter from the CBI was a general cry from the heart that they might not enjoy the influence and access to government they think they ought to have. I suspect they will find with the new government much as they have with other past governments that they will have access to put legitimate points about the business interest to the Ministers and Ministries that tax and regulate them. It should be a professional relationship, not a special friendship.

The CBI has often provided pro EEC/EU advice that has turned out to be very damaging to the UK economy and business interests they claim to represent. I took the large industrial quoted company I led in the 1980s out of the CBI because it insisted on campaigning vocally for the UK to join the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. I was one of the few critics of the scheme. I pointed out the UK would get a high inflation or a nasty recession from membership. I lost the argument to keep us out, and we ended up getting both the inflation and the recession. That deeply damaging economic policy closed many factories, bankrupted businesses and meant the Conservative party spent 13 years out of office and 18 years without a majority. The government should remember the downside of some CBI advice.

I remember having an open door to the CBI and to their member firms when I was the UK’s single market Minister. I had the task of “completing” the single market in the early 1990s, when we had to put through a huge legislative programme of almost 300 new business laws to carry out what the EU thinks is a single market. Many businesses came to lobby me. Practically every time they came, they either wanted me to delay or dilute the proposed measures. Often they would have preferred me to veto it, but I had to remind them we no longer had that power under the terms of the Treaties we had signed with their encouragement.

One of the worst examples of a bad proposed EU measure was the one that would have made the London Stock Exchange’s method of trading illegal. The Directive had been drafted based on continental methods of trading. I went to great lengths to get that proposal changed, including going to Brussels to attend the working meeting of officials myself as well as to the Ministerial meeting. I managed to get the draft changed. Having no veto made this difficult.

Now I advise the CBI to recognise that the biggest threat to London’s financial business is the proposed takeover of the London Stock Exchange by German shareholders. Whilst they will offer short term reassurances that business will still be conducted in London, there will be nothing to stop them shifting large quantities of business to Frankfurt later on. Why isn’t the CBI highlighting this and lobbying to block the merger on competition grounds, as it will clearly reduce competition in European financial transactions.

It is curious that many of the laws that are what they call the single market were thought to be damaging to business at the time they went in, but are now apparently thought to be crucial to business. I would like to reassure the CBI that if they like all these laws now, we could always decide to keep them once we are out. The good news is that once out we can keep them, repeal them or improve them as we please. Where the laws are narrow matters of standards and requirements for the continental market then of course exporters will still need to meet the customer demands, just as they have to meet the different ones for US or Asian exports.

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86 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 5:30 am | Permalink

    Indeed you make very sensible points.

    Organisation that represent certain interest very often serve them very badly as they develop. The organisations start to put their own interests to the fore. For example a group might start of initially claiming to represent landlords interests. Then very often profits from more and more regulation of landlords, deposits, licencing, complex tax rules and the likes. This as they are then needed more and more to guide members through the artificial maze that is created they profit greatly from it. Rather like many other parasitic jobs that exist in law, tax, hr, health and safety and the likes.

    It is not long before they are encouraging governments in this direction.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 5:49 am | Permalink

      I see that the usually sound Simon Heffer today even compares May to E Powell:- “May like Powell takes heed of public opinion”. She does indeed seem to be recognising the public’s view on Brexit I agree. But then mere words butter no parsnips.

      The problem is that in all other respect she sounds more like the dire Ted Heath. A lefty incompetent, interventionist with bonkers central wage controls, workers and customers on boards, gender pay reporting, foreign worker reporting and other lunacies.

      Furthermore she has even given the go ahead to two completely daft and totally uneconomic vanity projects HS2 and Hinkley C. She has not scrapped the grants for greencrap energy yet, she has not scrapped the sugar tax, the 15% stamp duty, tenant muggings, the 45% income tax band or even Osborne job destroying national wage controls. They are even still ratting on their inheritance tax promise of eight years back.

      Ted Heath used to complain about Tiny Rowland being the unacceptable face of capitalism. She is doing the same.

      Heath was a disaster at the ballet box. Thatcher won in effect four elections one with Major as her man. Thus until the public sussed him out and buried the party for 3+ terms.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 6:11 am | Permalink

        So why does May seem to want to follow the electorally disastrous Ted Heath path?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 5:55 am | Permalink

      The weakness of the pound is clearly due to Brexit uncertainty but it is surely augmented by May’s interventionist, anti market, business/rich bashing, lefty approach. That and the fact that her decisions (on HS2, Hinkley, wage controls and the above red tape) show her economic judgement is so very, very misguided.

      • Richard1
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 10:46 am | Permalink

        One of the good things from the perspective of voters and taxpayers about a country having its own currency is you can see an immediate market reaction to govt policy and to economic stats. Hopefully the market signals then act as a check on a rational govt when it finds it seems to have taken a wrong turn. On this basis a red flashing light with a loud and unpleasant noise should now be disturbing Mrs May and Mr Hammond. The market does not like the direction of policy – such as it is – so far.

        Reply This suggestion is not policy and has been withdrawn.
        E.g. Has a British minister ever come up with a more foolish and unpleasant policy than Amber Rudd’s plan to require employers to list ‘foreign’ workers, as if this were a bad thing, though perfectly legal? A correspondent to the FT wonders whether his local Italian restaurant will be named and shamed as it has a grossly disproportionate number of Italian employees. This woman has clearly been hugely over-promoted.

        Reply Why didnt you point out sterling showed markets didnt like our economic policy before the EU vote when they thought we were stayin in?

        • Richard1
          Posted October 9, 2016 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

          Reply to reply: I don’t understand your point. Sterling has clearly weakened significantly since the Brexit vote. No doubt that is in part due to the BoE’s monetary policy, which as you and others point out, is unnecessary. But – insofar as we can ever isolate reasons for currency movements – it must in part be concern that, given Brexit, the Govt does not appear to be heading in a direction likely to make the most of it. I didn’t know Mrs Rudd’s nonsensical policy had been withdrawn within a day as you say above. But that fact that a senior cabinet minister can come up with something so obviously stupid in a carefully prepared public forum is very concerning.

      • DWMF
        Posted October 10, 2016 at 12:55 am | Permalink

        Only indirectly. The pound went down because idiot money dealers in the Far East were all running the same computer programs using the same algorithms and the same thresholds. Thus when three “important” speeches are made criticising the UK’s Brexit plans, they all make the same calculations to mark the pound as losing value against other currencies. Acting as one (a most unnatural behaviour), they thus had a much greater effect than if they used human judgement and their actions were spread around.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 8:23 am | Permalink
    • getahead
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      The CBI works for the EU and big businesses who benefit from EU largesse.
      Close down its Brussels office for a start.

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    If Hammond want the pound to stop falling (and businesses to become more productive) he needs to cut taxes, have a bonfire of red tape, welcome businesses and the rich, cancel these daft vanity projects, get real competition in banking, go for cheap energy, cancel the greencrap subsidies, cancel Osborne’s central wage controls and simplify the tax system.

    In short he needs to do the opposite of what Osborne did, and it seem what May seems still to want.

    • alan jutson
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      Lifelogic

      If he would stop talking the UK down and smile a little it may help, that would cost nothing !

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

        Sensible policies would cost nothing either. Indeed they would grow the economy and the tax base.

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    I see some daft lefties at the EU actually want to play Father Christmas (with other people’s money of course) by giving all young people rail cards. So you tax their parents, waste about half the money in the process and then give half of it back to their children. This as a voucher that they can only use on EU train travel for a year rather than what they might actually want to spend it on.

    About as bonkers as Gordon Browns baby bond electoral bribe.

    Do not mention it to T May as I suspect this sort of damaging gimmick rather up her street too.

  4. Margaret
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    Wouldn’t the recession and inflation have happened in or out of the EU ? …although we should have gone with your advice anyway.

    • Mark Watson
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 7:40 am | Permalink

      The recession we got was long and deep,we needed to cut rates from 15% I seem to recall but couldn’t as we were tied to the DM3 level.The Germans wouldn’t cut their rates they had high inflation.
      We may have had a slowdown or mild recession but Majors decision to join the ERM at the worst possible time made it far worse.And Major had the cheek to call Leavers ” gravediggers of prosperity “.

  5. Mick
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/oct/08/mps-demand-vote-hard-brexit-single-market#comments
    Do these MPs think the public are bloody stupid, the only reason they want a vote is so they can block us leaving the eu, all these MPs should be named and shamed so we can see which weasels they are to go against the will of the people, and then kicked out of Westminster at the next GE
    650 MPs against 17.5 million they don’t stand a chance, Muppets

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 7:39 am | Permalink

      There were times when it might have been appropriate for Ed Miliband to table an urgent question on this, while he was still Leader of the Opposition and before the arrangements for the referendum had been finalised. In fact right up to the point when the government had just put its official leaflet online prior to distributing it to every household in England, and that leaflet told voters:

      “The referendum on Thursday, 23 June is your chance to decide if we should remain in or leave the European Union.”

      “This is your decision. The Government will implement what you decide.”

      These MPs who are complaining now could have urgently demanded to know what would ensue from a vote to leave the EU and how they would be involved. They had an opportunity as late as April 11th when there was a debate on the leaflet:

      https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2016-04-11/debates/16041110000001/GovernmentReferendumLeaflet

      Lidington:

      “As the Prime Minister told Parliament on 22 Feb 2016, the referendum is potentially the most important decision that the British people will make on any political issue in their lifetime.”

      “Last week, the Government launched a stand-alone website that features the leaflet online and provides further information to the public. That will be advertised on social media and other digital channels.”

      “Whether the United Kingdom should remain in or leave the European Union is a huge decision for this country. It is right that it should be a decision for the British people as a whole.”

      A number of MPs, including Kenneth Clarke, had a number of things to say about that leaflet, but not one of them thought to ask:

      “When the leaflet says ““This is your decision. The Government will implement what you decide.”, are people to take that literally, or would it be Parliament that decided how to respond to a vote to leave the EU?”

      In any case the legal cases brought by diehard Remainers will be heard at the end of this week, and maybe then it will become clearer whether the court thinks it should rescue lazy and inattentive parliamentarians from the consequences of their own incompetence. There is not much point going over it again here when it will shortly be thrashed out in court one way or the other.

  6. The Active Citizen
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    Good post for a Sunday morning. It serves as a reminder to those who sometimes criticise you that whilst I’m sure you’d never claim infallibility, you’ve got key decisions right even when you were in the minority. Those of us with long memories don’t forget these things.

    LSE takeover – totally agree. This needs to be blocked by the Government and is crucial. I hate excessive Government interference in business but this is a clear case for intervention.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 6:33 am | Permalink

      In politics having a record of being consistently right never seem to be an advantage for some reason. The best think for career advancement seems to be to go along with the current group think insanity regardless.

      Perhaps JR should just place some large bets instead, here being right is rewarded hugely.

    • David Price
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 6:41 am | Permalink

      Follow the French and German approach – block or neuter it in the national interest or encourage an alternative be established, all in the spirit of friendly competition you understand.

    • agricola
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 7:39 am | Permalink

      The stock exchange we should keep under UK control. If it is the London School of Economics you refer to then they are welcome to it.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 9:40 am | Permalink

        🙂

  7. Lifelogic
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    Booker is quite right today in the Sunday Telegraph. “100 months to save the planet was just a fantasy”. Was Prince (do as I say not as I do) Charles not championing this udder drivel as he spent over £1m PA on his personal travel arrangements?

    No rise in global temperatures for 18 years and polar ice now is about the same as when satellite records began in 1979.

    So what exactly is the point of Hinkley’s energy at three times the going rate?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 6:34 am | Permalink

      utter (or indeed udder).

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      Not just Hinkley to contend with L/L but now KITES being flown at Stranraer in Scotland. Just how many millions will be thrown at this remains to be seen. When is all this madness going to end? People with their noses in the troughs again. Let’s hope fracking takes on big time.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 10:04 am | Permalink

        I do not mind sensible R&D but rolling out duff technology and wind farm “kites” with tax & bill payer subsidies is bonkers. It kills productivity too, yet Hammond “claims” that he wants to improve this. The government is the obstacle to this Hammond & May!

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 11:44 am | Permalink

        As fracking takes off these Hinkley C, wind and other greencrap unreliables will look even more like economic insanity. Cut them all out cancel HS2 and get some roads and allow some more houses to be build.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      L/L Just heard that the Scottish taxpayer has to pick up a £31m bill due to the fact that Scottish Enterprise has seen to return on its investment into Auqmarine (tidal energy) who lost £15.2m and Pelamis the year before who lost £16.3m. These figures have just come to light. What a way to waste our money! I mean, it’s not as if there is nothing else Scotland could spend its money on, is there?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 10:08 am | Permalink

        Indeed how may lives could have been saved by spending this money rather better? Probably about 150 I would estimate. We still have some of the worst cancer outcomes in Western Europe for example. It was Cameron’s priority in three letters he said once!

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 10:37 am | Permalink

        So sorry. That should read seen NO return on its investment.

      • turboterrier
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

        @ FOS

        To add salt to the wound at present Scotland is importing 460MW and yesterday it was 250MW yesterday from England . Nothing yet heard from the Scottish renewable lobby. I wonder why?

        People wonder why we have fuel debt and poverty and industry being held back from being competitive, it ain’t rocket science.

        Lets start getting real and contractual and scrap the Climate Change Levy and start taxing the totally obscene monies being handed out to all those sitting back and doing nothing for their money especially the land owners.

  8. Denis Cooper
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    In view of the increasingly belligerent attitudes being exhibited by continental politicians I think it would be best to put the LSE takeover on hold. Bear in mind that Merkel has been calling on German business leaders to support her policy on Brexit and no doubt they will show more patriotism than many leaders of large businesses in this country.

  9. Denis Cooper
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    From a “senior Treasury figure”, as reported today:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/10/08/cabinet-split-over-handling-of-brexit/

    “The EU club sees a member heading for the door. Their priority is to kill them, or at the very least take off a leg, so others don’t follow.”

    One of the new fivers has just come my way and it seems appropriate that a banknote with Churchill and one of his most famous quotes should be issued at this time.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 7:35 am | Permalink

      Can we have some bank noties with this quote on:

      Some people regard private enterprise as a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look on it as a cow they can milk. Not enough people see it as a healthy horse, pulling a sturdy wagon. Winston Churchill

      Just to remind Theresa and the other lefties to stop nobbling the horses.

    • oldtimer
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      There is a post on politicalbetting.com on the same issue, also quoting Newton Dunn of the Sun.

      My suspicious mind suggests that the current campaign mounted by the CBI is quietly endorsed by one or more supporters of Remain in the cabinet. Mr Hammond is a prime candidate for this role, based on his comments. Mrs May was quite explicit, in her conference speech, about the direction of travel leaving no room for compromise.

      My suspicious mind also thinks that the sharp, overnight, blip in the £ emanating in Asia a few days back, was not the result of an accidental “fat finger” as some suggest but was deliberately engineered (by Japanese interests?).

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      Dear Denis–Assuming these are the new plastic ones, no doubt you read that letter to the effect that these notes are not fit for purpose because once folded they cannot be flattened (i.e. the fold stays in place more like a crease) so the notes spring back to an L shape which ruins stackability. The letter was correct. Not sure whether this is further Bank of England (Royal Mint??) incompetence or a dastardly plan to make us all go electronic. Back on the Bank, and JR’s recent views thereon, I thought interest rates were set by the MPC with each of the nine members just giving an opinion which is not quite the same thing as the Bank herself getting her formulae and modelling wrong.

  10. agricola
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    The CBI can have a professional relationship with government, as can many other lobby groups. The people however only have a once every five years relationship that lasts about twelve hours on election day.

    This could be rectified to a degree by having referendums on key subjects. You and I rejoiced in getting a referendum on membership of the EU. I admit that that was a real elephant in the room question, but there will be others that deserve the input of the electorate. How about to frack or not to frack, or the waving of university fees for graduates in the disciplines we need. Engineers, doctors and scientists I would submit. I put these forward not as priorities but as possible examples.

    If democratic government is to work it needs to carry the majority of the electorate with it. Compared with the EU we are ahead of the game, but we need to go further.

  11. The Prangwizard
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    I have expressed my opposion many times to the takeover of the LSE and am delighted that you are too. I join with those believe it against the national interest and should be prevented.

    The mindset which has led to our selling off successful businesses because it thought to be beneficial must be changed.

    I read recently that Glasses Direct, a small business set up from nothing has been sold to French company which will no doubt ecpand its operations worldwide.

    The City spivs will no doubt have made a short term profit and would congratulate themselves on another success but the country loses again Profits and cash go overseas and maybe the entire business too.

    The is something fundamentally wrong with our approach. The short termism and the parochialism must be replaced with a log term view and encouragement to make every business an international brand. The spivs myst be shamed out of existence.

    • turboterrier
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      @ TPW

      Hear Hear

  12. formula57
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Surely no-one takes the CBI seriously?

    For a brief moment under Digby Jones’s leadership it hinted at what it might be were it to be of use, but there was not much before and has been nothing since.

  13. Caterpillar
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Yes takeover of LSE should be stopped in the current environment. Yes anticompetitive is the way to argue. UK willl need to keep capital as well as current account open if, going forward, UK is to be world leader if free trade.

  14. Newmania
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    I, in common with many people who rightly believe they will end up paying for this crazed political pseudo religion loathed ERM and the Euro ( It I also seemed to me, by the way ,that almost everyone predicted the Banking crash except those charged with looking out for it ).
    I don`t deny this endlessly repeated historic victory for the Euro sceptic is valid. The question before us now is of entirely different nature and those who intend to make a bonfire out of the years of work actual business has done thriving in the EU require vastly more than the odd eccentric to counterbalance the successful reality .
    We were hugely fortunate as a country to have ended up with the little bear`s porridge .The Euro is a fantastic assistance to trade from which benefit and yet we suffered none of the cost and none of the political sacrifice. For us to have willingly have thrown away this position because a lot of people supposedly hate Polish people is ..frustrating

    The CBI have written to May because she chose to use her speech , like much Brexit nonsense , to bash business in addition to promising a hard Brexit cutting Services off form Europe and with little better than the WTO baseline to offer . When all common sense all expertise and all real life experience are balanced against a few schoolboy contrarians , Conservatives should have absolutely no doubt which side they are on. 4500,000 of us , as I must continually remind Mr Redwood do not have any doubt .

    That the Conservative Party has chosen to abandon moderate Conservative opinion is , if you think about it, an astonishing thing, but one made possible by the complete breakdown of the two Party system. Which we are told is so vital Typically Parliament is being excluded entirely form the most important decisions of our lifetime but these supposed defenders of Parliament .

    Their appeal, in practice is not to Conservative constitutional tradition it is to a spiritual ethnic conception of the English tribe. Alarm are rightly ringing for anyone with any historic perspective .

    This takes us to the heart of what Brexit is .Daily Mays dreadful speech struck a number of notes that have been interpreted as leftward in terms of the state and rightward socially in particular its immigrant bashing passages which , if you re-read them are worse than they appeared .
    I think we are deceiving ourselves by the shifting use of those always imprecise terms .
    (words left out ed)The reason I reserve a particular contempt for John Redwood and the tiny cadre of Constitutional Thatcherite Brexiteers is that do not understand the beast they have unleashed . They claim to object to using EU citizens here as pawns when this was the only possible outcome , they claim to object to the far right but none of it voted Remain , they claim to be free traders but “Protecting our this and that ..” is never far form their lips
    What we are seeing is |Britain following the European pattern on which both moderate left and right and overwhelmed by fascist and socialist parties.

    I oppose this and I can only hope Continuity Conservatives ( like it ?) will come to see things as they are .

    PS Anyone who retains a good opinion of the preening and ridiculous Enoch Powell should be condemned to read his poetry . I kid you not,(cruel and unusual )

    • Edward2
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      I think the PM was correct to say that some large international companies that avoid paying tax,not just here but all over the world, need dealing with.
      They gain a big trading advantage against companies rooted in one nation who pay tax.
      And are gradually taking over.
      Do you think this is a situation we should ignore?
      The rest of your post was a confused rant in my opinion.

    • agricola
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      I had the privilege of meeting Enoch Powel and of hearing him speak first hand. He was without doubt an intellectual powerhouse who could incidentally write grammatically correct English.

      • Bert Young
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

        I strongly support Agricola’s response . Enoch Powell was a visionary Politician and an impressive Academic .

        • Edward2
          Posted October 9, 2016 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

          Me too.
          Wonderful speaker.

    • Anonymous
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      “For us to have willingly have thrown away this position because a lot of people supposedly hate (foreigners ed)is ..frustrating”

      Actually the migrant bashing is happening on the Continent, not in the UK.

      One of the big remain lies is that we want to stop immigration and send law abiding migrants back home, so stop being one of those liars, Newmania.

      That there has been little political and social impact from being in the EU is also a lie, so stop telling it, Newmania.

      Uncontrolled borders are unacceptable to the majority of the British population and without them we are no longer a nation state. The Referendum question could have been phrased:

      “Do you want Britain to be abolished as a nation state or not ?” Because that’s what we were voting for.

      Personally I vowed to quietly accept a Remain result but never to vote again as my vote would be irrelevent in the EU – indeed I would be campaigning against having a British Parliament.

      That’s another issue. I see no jingoism or nationalistic fervour about this referendum result. There is scant evidence of a hatred of Poles despite the media effort to stoke it up.

      I think Peter Hitchens makes a more compelling case against Brexit in that he thinks it wrong for now but only because the mechanism to achieve it was short-circuited.

      • Anonymous
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 10:04 am | Permalink

        PS, Newmania. We have to see Brexit for what it actually was. A hatred of a condescending, leftist ruling British elite, not Poles.

        It seems most of the people I know who voted Remain are also socialists.

        • rose
          Posted October 9, 2016 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

          And I think the Remainiacs are projecting their own hatreds on to Brexiteers. Though the only hatreds they actually evince are of Etonians, and, of course, Anglophobia. It is quite the nastiest part of their Project Fear.

        • Anonymous
          Posted October 9, 2016 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

          PS, on the subject of socialists.

          Newmania has already expressed his view that selective education is a bad thing and would not choose it for his children.

          (I did for mine and am glad of it)

          • Newmania
            Posted October 9, 2016 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

            I have no doubt they will fare exceedingly well at the secondary modern to which I assume you have sent them.

    • Graham
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      By virtue of your tone of superiority you obviously believe what you say but fortunately for the country most of us uneducated egrets don’t.

      The faster we leave and restructure to a new level we can control the better – and we will despite the unhelpful gloom emanating from you and the minority like you.

    • RockyRacoon
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      Newman
      Daisy May ( the little puppet ) rolls of the tongue better, dont you think, than Daily May.
      Looked at the poems, thanks. They’re not that bad.

    • forthurst
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      A xenophobic rant littered with straw man arguments. Stick to the grauniad where your semi-literate frothings are welcome.

    • alan jutson
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      Newmainia

      I do not agree with all of Mrs may’s speech either, but the alternative at the moment is what ?

      Corbyn type policies are the policies of the mad house, and would have us bankrupt in no time.
      The last Labour government was bad enough, but they were not touch on the present lot for tax, waste, and pee down the drain.

      • turboterrier
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

        @ alan jutson

        never a truer word said.

        When are they ever going to catch up with real life. Take away the handouts and be given the choice to ” work or starve or rely on your family to help you not the state”. That is a quote from a Spanish DHSS employee to a young man who had had his three months of handouts. Same with business “you prove it works and is feasible and we may assist you” It tends to focus the mind. No funding for unproven causes!!.

  15. Antisthenes
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    The ability of vested interests to lobby parliament and government is very worrying. The democratic process requires government to be accountable to only the people of the nation and base their policies and practices on the will of those people. Lobbying undermines democracy as some use that to circumvent that process and have government enact narrow interest policies.

    To petition rulers has always been an accepted practice as it is an effective means of bring wrongs to their attention and have them rectified. However the need to do so was largely negated by the introduction of elected parliaments where all bodies of opinion and particular needs can be aired, debated and decided upon. Vested interest groups should lobby the people if they wish to change policies not parliament or government. Direct lobbying should be banned.

    Vested interest groups already align themselves to political groups that share their views or seek to influence them. So have no right to look for advantage beyond doing that. That is the fairest means and least open to abuse, corruption and manipulation for self gain at the expense of others.

  16. fedupsoutherner
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Great post once again John. Why, oh, why didn’t Theresa May appoint you chancellor instead of Hammond?

  17. Dung
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Sadly Theresa May is totally onboard with the green crap, she has stated that she will ratify the Paris agreement and has pledged to continue with the fight against non existent human caused global warming. One result of this policy is that we can not make the steel for our new missile subs in the UK and have ordered it from France Doh!

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

      I fear you are right. She is after all a geography graduate so I did not have very high expectations of logic, scientific or engineering acumen or numeracy. HS2 and Hinkley are profoundly wrong as anyone can see. As is the workers/customers on company boards proposal, gender pay/immigrant worker reporting and that is just so far.

  18. Denis Cooper
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Yesterday I posted a reply to a comment from oldtimer about some foreign “experts” being excluded from advising the government, as follows:

    “But there are British citizens whose primary loyalty is to the EU, so they will also have to be weeded out as untrustworthy. Most members of Parliament, for a start.”

    And lo and behold, here today is an example of just that.

    On Friday I read in the Guardian:

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/oct/07/europe-hard-brexit-hurt-british-trade-deal

    “Article 50 was written to put a country leaving the EU at a disadvantage.”

    And now today I read in the Observer:

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/oct/08/article-50-lord-kerr-calls-vote-brexit-terms

    about the views of:

    “The British diplomat who wrote Article 50”

    who is now one of our unelected legislators-for-life.

    That British diplomat must have known very well that of all the EU member states his own country would be the one most likely to eventually want recourse to an “exit clause” – some others supported having it in the treaties precisely because Britain was seen as being an ill fit in the EU, a bit of a pain with its constant grumbling and demands for exemptions from this or that aspect of the European unification project – so why on earth did he write that treaty article to deliberately put his own country at a disadvantage?

    Now he has suggested that even if the government wins the pending court cases Theresa May “would allow Parliament to vote on a motion on triggering Article 50, and win with a big majority”; that is, apart from in that House of Parliament where he sits, where most likely a big majority would vote against it, probably including himself.

    He adds:

    “It wouldn’t be on a Bill if the government has won the case but it would, presumably, be on some sort of motion.”

    A motion, which unlike a Bill would not fall within the scope of the Parliament Acts allowing the Commons to by-pass the Lords, albeit with a thirteen month delay.

    • stred
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      Lord Kerr. -steering committe Bilderburg Group. re Wiki. Who needs enermies

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

        Thanks.

    • stred
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      enemies? interrupted by panic caused by frog in garden. Enemies all over.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted October 9, 2016 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

        You’re quite lucky to have a frog in your garden, their numbers have gone down a lot. We have a toad in our greenhouse, ugly brute but useful.

  19. Richard
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    You’re drawing our attention to past inconsistency of CBI advice (hindsight is a great thing), but that on its own doesn’t de-legitimise their current concerns with which you don’t engage substantively. As the FT said, sterling is now the official opposition to the UK government. It’s deeply worrying that we have a government for whom the economy isn’t the no. 1 priority.

    Reply I forecast the past disasters before they happened. The CBI concerns are as false now as their policy recommendations were before.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      It’s worth reflecting that the bond market can no longer be part of the opposition now the Bank of England is the Treasury’s captive gilts investor with effectively bottomless pockets, so maybe that’s transferred more pressure on to the currency.

  20. Bert Young
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    At any one time what the CBI says is subject to a small committee ; it does not counsel the view of its membership every time before issuing an advice . The CBI is heavily influenced by a few large companies – many are international ones under policy direction from abroad . Friends of mine have been members – and sometimes Chairmen , of its committees and have from time to time remarked on how biased their judgements were and two of their DGs were ashamed of the positions the CBI took and then came to me seeking another appointment ! ( one of them subsequently became the UK MD of a large German company ). I can only assume that the CBI today is no different to what it was in the past – an unrepresentative body .

    John is absolutely right to criticise the CBI and to emphasise the need to keep the LSE out of foreign ownership . We have a proud and worthy leadership in our role of Trading setting standards of integrity the world has benefited from . We must not surrender this position or weaken our presence in any way . The Government must put its foot down and keep the City alive and well .

  21. Iain Gill
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    I hope you tell them they are wrong about expecting to continue to import masses of cheap workers from abroad on intra company transfers when there are many Brits out of work with the right skills. I hope you tell them their intra company transfer entrants need to pay at least as much tax as Brits. I hope you tell them that businesses reliant on large numbers of minimum wage staff subsidised by top up benefits need to think again if they think they can continue being propped up indefinitely. I hope you told them to fight for British interests.

  22. hefner
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    I came upon an interesting duet (both items on the FT web site):

    UK business hiring too many foreigners, says Amber Rudd (she was a Remainer)
    Daniel Hannan: A compromise on immigration will profit Brexit Britain (he certainly was not).

    May I add I am confused.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

      Back when Daniel Hannan had a Telegraph blog he made it clear that personally he is pretty unconcerned about immigration. Fair enough, he is entitled to his own view, and if he’s one of the small minority who thinks we should have at least the present level of immigration and preferably more so be it. But I object to his repeated claim that on June 23rd more voters were concerned about our national sovereignty than about control our immigration policy.

      Lord Ashcroft’s poll that he cites was seriously defective, as I explained at some length here:

      when Philip Johnson at the Telegraph prayed it in aid, and it does not permit the conclusion that either of them wish to draw from it.

  23. Prigger
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Off Topic:
    The brouhaha around a request of companies to provide numbers of employed migrants.
    Mr. Fallon on TV has said this is not coming to pass.. Confusing.

    Local Authority employers, ALMOs, Housing Associations, ( from staff and tenants) and indeed private companies, private rental companies, landlords, have been collecting this information and much more for years. It has been is government policy and law. Apart from quite legitimate Personnel Department administration, the Equal Opportunities legislation compelled the asking of such information, even from people who did not subsequently become employees.
    So when are the data and files going to be deleted for the rest of all time? Why does the Tory Government not know it has all the information literally at its fingertips already?

    • Prigger
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      Also your religious beliefs.

  24. Gullible
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    The Great Unknowing.

    It is astonishing what one or two MPs do not know and what their own city and town administrations do not know about their own activities.

    There was a revelation some time ago that asylum seekers were being temporally accommodated in a local large hotel. It had been going on with a rotation of those persons for quite some time.Suddenly a hotel worker told the local paper. The local MP was genuinely …repeat genuinely… most annoyed and spoke to the Home Office forthwith. The costs were enormous. He was informed that in future the Home Office would tell the Authority about it.
    In actual fact, it has been the law for some time that even a one-night bed and breakfast establishment has, on at least on a monthly basis, to fill out individual forms for each guest stating name address, length of stay, previous address etc. and send it to the Local Authority Town Hall. Of course where there is tax avoidance, not all guests get listed.
    I know this is the procedure because I had a boss in an establishment, who showed me such a form and he taught me how to fill one in.
    It is a wonder how and why one or two MPs were ever chosen as candidates by their parties. They do not appear to have basic knowledge of anything and come unstuck frequently.

  25. Denis Cooper
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    I realise that it’s going to be difficult for the government to do what is necessary and throw Project Fear into reverse, especially when some unreconstructed Remainer members of the government are fighting for control of the gear stick to stop that being done, but otherwise we’ll have more and more of this kind of nonsense:

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/oct/07/business-leaders-urge-theresa-may-to-avoid-hard-brexit

    “Heads of industry pen letter to warn prime minister lack of access to single market would devastate UK economy”

    Presumably that’s because the government would then have to put a 10% tariff on all our imports of cars from the EU (three times the value of our exports to the EU), meaning that UK car makers might have to supply more cars to the UK market to substitute for the lost imports, plus continue to export to the rest of the world (much more successfully, with a surplus) over the 10% tariff wall which already applies while we are in the EU …

    However there’s another article in the Guardian explaining why our lovely European partners would have to give us a hard time during the negotiations:

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/oct/09/brits-punished-brexit-we-want-fairness

    “The PM does not realise why other countries defend the principles of the single market”

    But while that article explains that:

    “Creating the single market was a painful process. Getting 28 countries to agree on everything from safety standards of hairdryers to banks’ capital levels was tough.”

    it nowhere explains why freedom of movement of persons should be accepted as an indispensable principle of the single market. I repeat the link to this paper:

    http://bruegel.org/2016/08/europe-after-brexit-a-proposal-for-a-continental-partnership/

    which argues that there are no strong grounds for insisting on freedom of movement of persons as part of economic integration; the motivation is political, not economic.

    Then there is a further explanation in the Guardian article:

    “… the other EU countries believe it is in their national interest to safeguard the single market. Why? Because of jobs. Millions of jobs have been created because European companies have been able to buy and sell freely to the richest consumers in the world, in the largest market in the world.”

    Well, yes, true, according to this speech about the economic benefits of the Single Market by EU Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis last autumn:

    http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-15-5687_en.htm

    “Between 1992 and 2008, the free movement of people, goods and services helped create almost 3 million new jobs.”

    Which is fine, except that in 2008 the total number of people employed across the EU was about 223 million:

    https://www.bluenomics.com/data#!data/labour_market/employment/total_number_of_employed_people/1892415090|chart/line&countries=eu

    and even if 3 million of their jobs were attributable to the Single Market that is only 1.3% of the total, and that marginal increase has been spread over 16 years.

    Moreover it is impossible to say how much of that 1.3% increase in the number of jobs was connected with freedom of movement of persons, rather than goods and services.

    • Anonymous
      Posted October 9, 2016 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      It makes sense when one considers that the aim of the EU is to make a single nation state, replete with its own army.

      The opposition to freedom of movement is a major obstacle to the federalists.

      Despite Newmania’s embarassing rantings about the EU being perfect and we jumping from a luxury Ocean liner into a lifeboat the realities in Britain are very different.

      The EU is manifestly a bad thing – our under 40s are impoverished compared to the generation that went before. 1997 is a good year to remember in this regard.

      This is because of the overcrowding which has happened since and the inability to get themselves on the property ladder in time. And also the fact that they are competing with a lot more willing workers for their jobs.

      The country isn’t benefitting from this keenness of workforce – the race-to-bottom wages are buffered by state subsidy in the form of top-ups. This idiocy is shown in the state of the national debt and deficit.

      When does the cramming of people into these small isles stop ???

  26. Peter D Gardner
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    All of which is a very strong argument to leave asap and for Mrs May to stop pussyfooting around with attempting a new complex arrangement with the EU in the timescale allowed for Brexit negotiations. Keep the agenda strictly to ‘arrangements for withdrawal’, as stated in Article 50 and business can have the certainty of outcome it needs. Clearly it is more adaptable than it would like us to believe. Trade is simple: carry on as now or revert to WTO rules, take it or leave it. there really is very little to negotiate under Article 50. Mrs May’s delaying exposes UK to future EU imposts and risks tying UK into another intimate relationship with Brussels like associate membership that is unlikely to be in Britain’s long term interests. Both Uk and EU need to get exit sorted out asap, draw breath, set their own independent paths and only then, having gained a wider perspective and calmed down, consider any further entanglement.

  27. lojolondon
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    John, as always a very measured and reasonable article. I would be far more vocal on this subject, as I believe that the hundreds of thousands of pounds donated to the CBI by the EU has damaged their impartiality. The CBI are now a propaganda outlet for the EU, and no longer a voice for British business.

  28. Newmania
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Chief amongst the fears of the City is that their cherished passporting rights

    Foreign Investment Banks have been clear that they will relocate outside the UK and into the EU where many have subsidiaries already.( This may not unduly hurt the Banks it will hurt the employees, their families and the UK)
    Lloyds of London , the basis of what remains of London’s world Insurance position has also expressed horror as have organisations representing MGAs and intermediaries , not to say accountants law firms and may more .
    JR has previously claimed we might retain this access whilst outside the EU or the EEA. Many European leaders have made it consistently clear this is not remotely plausible . End of .

    There is the possibility under MIFID II any external country to the EU with equivalent financial regulations would be free to sell services and product in the EU. Equivalence would not operate within the EU but between EU Nations and other non EU Nations and in any case MIFID II will not apply until 2018 , as I understand it .Perhaps there is a way around this but if there is no professional has yet suggested it .

    None of that matters. The key point here is not compliance but what extent global capitalisation will be able to count should a Company set up either a branch in the UK or visa versa . Compliance can be addressed, the necessity to come up with the relevant millions if not billions to trade in each Nation cannot..

    Unless John Redwood is able to give an answer on this simple point then I must conclude that his supposed solutions are mere verbiage . With so many jobs at stake, so many homes, lives and the services they pay for , I sorely hope we are not throwing ourselves off out of the plane without checking the parachute.

    Reply You keep repeating yourself. We will continue to sell services once we have left, as they will to us!

  29. mickc
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    The problem about the LSE is that once one buys something, one can generally do what one wants with it. That is as it should be.

    For that to be altered should require extremely strong reasons, probably involving national wellbeing. I cannot see any in this case.

    Rather off topic, but May has not started well. She is continuing Osborne’s attack on tax avoidance, whereby actually complying with the law is apparently an offence, as is advising others how to do so.

    Further she seems to be encouraging a soft Brexit, whilst Hammond is frightened about the exchange rate. Why he should be concerned about market short termism defeats me. It shows a lack of the character needed in a succesful Chancellor.

  30. Anonymous
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Mrs May is already being forced to back down on the migrant employee issue.

    I have to declare my ethnicity, sexuality, nationality on every government form in the interest of equality laws.

    So it’s OK to discriminate against me.

    The People voted Brexit because they feel like enemies in their own country. For a few wonderful moments Mrs May seemed to get this last week.

  31. darren
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    it must be a certainty that we no longer a member of the single market or customs union for that matter ,,,remaining in the union would make liam foxs position pointless,,,we voted to leave the eu and the single market is part of the eu,,,anything less would be a betrayal of the vote,i must also point out that polls indicate free movement ending is more important than single mkt,,,big corporate intrest should not yet again be allowed to dictare policy of the goverment and the people

  32. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    Most people do not know anything about the CBI nor any character as Head of it. This is not to say it is not important.
    Though certainly what is far more important are MPs in Parliament who are against democracy. They pose a severe threat to our country. One hopes they are being monitored by our security departments .
    For example, journalists on TV now regularly predicate their questions to Remainer MPs thus:-
    “Do you accept, fully, absolutely,the democratic decision, the vote, by the overwhelming majority of the British electorate in the Referendum; do you accept they voted to Leave the EU; do you accept there should not be a second Referendum; do you accept the vote to be absolutely final and what is left for any government irrespective of individual MPs’ views is to get on with it and leave the EU as soon as possible? ”
    They answer: ” Yes of course, I fully accept the vote…But and it’s a very big BUT…” Then they go on to relate via all the streets and houses in their dictatorial evasive and misleading vocabulary that they in fact do not accept any of it and seek any number of measures to get around it.
    These MPs just cannot accept one simple “X” on a ballot paper in half a century. If they cannot accept such a rudimentary piece of democracy, and they cannot, they should be watched like hawks.

  33. Minty
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    The Tic Tac company has tweeted on social media, for some reason, that it respects all women.
    It is Italian

  34. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted October 9, 2016 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    The Trump/Clinton second debate in a few hours time, can be seen by a variety of means on the internet and on TV depending on ones Service Provider. To my mind, it is must for anyone of whatever political persuasion. Also for psychologists, linguists and, true thinkers.
    It will, and the general Said and Unsaid effect afterwards, tell us more about ourselves and the true nature of Man and of woman and man. It may set a parallel in the greater world of psychology, of sorts, to questions raised by what is called “The Stockholm Syndrome, and curiously why there were no examples, there are no examples, of it prior to its fairly recent recognition, in prisoners of war held by the Germans and Japanese and other nations who have held British and American soldiers in captivity. and in deed, vice-versa. You will not find a book in anyone’s library on the subject. We should all write a book, even if we do not intend it to be published. It will increase our collective wealth to the zenith.

  35. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted October 10, 2016 at 3:13 am | Permalink

    The answer to most of your points is to recognise that the CBI is not representative of British industry. I would love you to do a profile of all the business umbrella organisations in the UK and contrast those profiles with the overall profile of UK business.

    In the days of the Wilson government, Enoch Powell argued that business should not form umbrella organisations at all, because that would ensure that they wouldn’t be asked to endorse government policy. Not for the first time and not for the last, ‘Enoch was right’.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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