I have done many debates and briefings for the business community in recent weeks. They all have some things in common. There is a strong wish to learn, as many in the business community have been starved of honest accounts of what powers the EU has and what policies it is following. There is an ignorance of the Leave campaign, as the media crowds out our positive message by endless aggressive interviews asking us to rebut the latest absurdity of project fear, or they seek to turn the whole thing into a Tory split story. The business community and many others are getting fed up with this silly treatment of a big national issue.
The first thing few grasp is this is about much more than trade rules and how easy it should be for Germany to sell us her cars. It is about who makes our laws, who levies taxes, who spends our money, who controls our borders. I have to explain just how much power the EU now has over VAT, Corporation Tax, energy policy, business regulation, criminal law and much else.
The second thing I notice is even the big banks and foreign investment houses who say they analyse economics do not understand the need to analyse the favourable economic impacts of saving a £12 bn outflow on balance of payments and a £11bn contribution which is spent on the continent which could be spent at home. When I point out we get a 0.6%boost to GDP from spending our own money no one disagrees but no one includes this in their analysis.
The third thing I notice is they assume we will follow the Article 50 route out if the EU but do not then realise that means no change for the first two years. They are usually unsighted on the UK Parlianentary route allied to a faster negotiation timetable.
They find it difficult to understand that Article 50 is designed more for the convenience of the Union than of the leaver. That’s why using UK legislation to restore our veto before entering a faster negotiation would give us more leverage.
Many of them assume we will do a Norway and seem not to have heard the clear statements of the Leave campaign that we will not pay contributions in or have free movement once we have left.