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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Business backs Cameron's call for a mandate on Europe

A letter in today's Times from some leading UK business people supporting Cameron's approach:

EU reforms must come before any membership referendum

Business faces ever more burdens from Brussels and the single market in Europe has not yet been fully realised

Sir, As business leaders we are passionate about Britain’s prosperity. We agree with the Prime Minister that Britain’s best chance of success is as part of a reformed Europe. We need a new relationship with the EU, backed by democratic mandate.

Business faces ever more burdens from Brussels and the single market in Europe has not yet been fully realised. The euro crisis has created the circumstances for a new EU settlement. This is the moment to push for a more flexible, competitive EU that would bring jobs and growth for all member states. That means completing the Single Market and quashing the culture of red tape.

Now is our chance to reform the EU from within. The Prime Minister is right. This is a European policy that will be good for business and good for jobs in Britain.
The full list of signatories:

John Ayton, Bremont Watch; Sir Anthony Bamford, JCB; Sir John Beckwith, Pacific Investments; Samir Brikho, AMEC; Sir George Buckley, Arle Capital; William Butler-Adams, Brompton Bicycles; Stephen Catlin, Catlin Group; Ian Cheshire, Kingfisher; Andrew Coppel, De Vere Group; Gerald Corbett, Betfair; Mick Davis, Xstrata; Philip Dilley, Arup; Paul Drechsler, Wates Group; Ralph Findlay, Marston’s; Rupert Gavin, Odeon & UCI Cinemas; Ben Gordon, Britvic; Michael Gutman, Westfield Group; Lord Harris, Carpetright; Aidan Heavey, Tullow Oil; Robert Hiscox, Hiscox; Brent Hoberman, made.com; Sebastian James, Dixons Retail; Luke Johnson, Risk Capital Partners; Andrew Law, Caxton Associates; Lord Leach, Open Europe; Alistair McGeorge, New Look; Jon Moulton, Better Capital; Charlie Mullins, Pimlico Plumbers; Jamie Murray Wells, Glasses Direct; John Nelson, Hammerson; Richard Nichols, College Group; Tim Oliver, Hampden Holdings; David Ord, Bristol Port Company; Alan Parker, Brunswick; Sir John Peace, Burberry; Tony Pidgley, Berkeley Group; Sir John Ritblat, Delancey; Nick Robertson, ASOS; SIr Simon Robertson, Rolls-Royce; Xavier Rolet, London Stock Exchange; Sir Stuart Rose, Ocado; Joanna Shields, Tech City Investment Organisation; Michael Spencer, ICAP; Tim Steiner, Ocado; James Townshend, Velcourt Group; Ted Tuppen, Enterprise Inns; Moni Varma, Veetee; Paul Walsh, Diageo; Robert Walters, Robert Walters; Joseph Wan, Harvey Nichols; Tom Wells, Charles Wells Pub Company; Nick Wheeler, Charles Tyrwhitt Shirts; Bob Wigley, Stonehaven; Charles Wigoder, Utility Warehouse; Lord Wolfson, Next


Rollo said...

Big business wants to stay in the EU. Big business is FTSE 250 companies, as shown by the signings. Big business is 10% of UK production. SMEs are by far the biggest contributors.
The EU is all for big business. SMEs'are mostly against the EU, because they suffer the most from regulation and from European protectionism.

Tom said...

As a SME owner I do not think Cameron speaks for me nor would I have added my name to this list.
I see the EU as anti small business and driven by Civil servants who just have no idea how much their silly ,bossy laws hold us back and frustrate management especially the one man band type managers who cannot do any work because they have to spend the whole day filling in irrelevant paper or carrying out some sort of audit for some EU department.
I do not believe that Cameron will negotiate down to this level so things will remain the same .
Fortunately if an SME goes bust probably only two or three workers lose their jobs.

christina speight said...

It is all part of the eu-phile drive to keep us in the EU to trot out prominent signatories to optimistically bland but supportive statements in the hope that they will drown out the small business and even more the individual who dislike the authoritarian tendencies of the eurocrats who rule our lives.

There IS no democracy in the EU because there is no demos. THIS vacuum lets the evil monster thrive in the resulting absence of democracy.

jon livesey said...

A lot of people are commenting on the "uncertainty" issue, but I think they are getting it back to front.

For example, if you are a foreign investor contemplating investing in the UK, what would make you more reluctant to do so? Would it be the prospect of negotiations after which the Tories would urge the voters to vote to stay in the Single Market, or would it be a straight in/out referendum without negotiations, in which, on current form, the voters would probably vote to leave the EU?

On another front, if you are a foreign investor, what would make you most eager to invest in the UK? Would it be a thriving and competitive EU able to absorb UK exports, or would it be an EU so wrapped up in over-regulation and "more Europe" that it remained a slow growth area able to absorb fewer UK exports?

Uncertainty is one thing, but you have to consider what people are actually uncertain about.


They failed to tell is the most important thing - what they would wish Britain to do when they find, as they surely will, that the changes they are looking for are not and never will be available?

Do they not realise that what they want is the precise opposite of what the EU was set up to be? As my recent letter in the Telegraph about Cable asking for less red tape pointed out, the entire basis of the EU's economic thinking is that economic success comes from having bureaucrats (few if any of whom have ever run a business, or ever could) telling 500m people not only what to do and how to do it, but when!

It has of course been tried before - Russia being one and East Germany being another. It failed there and it took decades before the inevitable happened - in the EU those decades and mounting up now and the same fate looms nearer. But will the elite give way and accept what these industrialists say they want? No more than they will turn back the screw on the PIGGS, because their dream (our nightmare) is more important than the pain and suffering of the proletariat. But when something is unsustainable, sooner or later it will no longer be sustained and the end is inevitable.

So what are these business people doing, reading between the lines? Well, here are a few clues. About 5 years ago Luke Johnson spoke to the Bruges Group alongside an emiment American economics commentator, sometime columnist on the Telegraph and Times. I was there, and they made their views very clear indeed - no hedging of any kind. They could not begin understand why Britain people of all people had ever put up with the EU nonsense, and the sooner we get out the better. Not half out, not less tightly in - simply OUT.

Similarly, Lord Wolfson was a headline speaker at the Congress for Democracy - again I was there and again he was absolutely clear about the lack of democracy and all the othet problems most sceptics have long been aware of. And he offered and has I believe now paid a £250,000 prize for the best plan for the PIGGS to leave the euro. He has also made it clear what while he wishes to stay in the single market, that is pretty much all he wants and as he says forecfully, not at any price.

Jon Moulton, on Newsnight after the speech, said much the same - trade yes, but not at any price, that the EU is sinking fast and we do not want to be there shackled to it when it does. No doubt whatever in my mind about what he thinks.

So what are they up to, signing that letter supporting renegotiation, and presumably though unstated, the explicit threat to leave if it is not forthcoming - when most of them know there is not the slightest chance of getting any meaningful change?

I believe it is very simple, the approach of John Redwood for some years now: Get people on our side by first asking for enegotiation, knowing it will be bound to fail, and then when it does, turn to the British people and say, shoulders hunched, eyebrows raised "Well we tried, we really tried, to get a better deal for this country, but they will not allow it. So as the present deal, let alone the likely future arrangements are simply not acceptable, we have to leave."

Not all of them perhaps, but most. They didn't get to where they are by being daft enough to think the anti-Anglo-Saxon, anti-capitalism EU will give way on such fundamental parts of their con trick - and they surely cannot believe they would write a wholly different deal for us. After all, how many of them have already said that this would lead to the whole thing breaking up?

The problem of course is that that is not how Cameron is thinking - he either really believes he will get what he wants (though he clearly ain't no Henry Fonda in 27 Angry Men) or he thinks that he can fool us like Wilson did in 1975 with meaningless concessions. see http://www.fightbackwithfacts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/75PAMPHLET.pdf

One thing is for sure, Cameron will not hold a referendum that looked as it it would take us out.

french derek said...

There are so many misunderstandings of the EU on show here that it's difficult to know where to start.
1 Let's start with 'undemocratic'. Blame Blair amongst others. The Madrid treaty set up fully open and democratically elected Parliament to sit in judgment on Commission proposals, countered by a secretive Council. That's the 'undemocratic' bit - and Mr Cameron's part of it.
2 Civil Servants in the Commission. I know of British and Irish working in the Commission who came in from business. That and their language abilities were the key to appointments. NB the re are about 1500 Brits in the Commission.
3 Red tape. How much is written in by Commission staff and how much by national government civil servants? Regulations and laws here in France seem to be less binding than those in the UK, for example. Also, there are EMPs working to reduce the red tape - they need help and support. Why not task UK EMPs to give that help and support?
4 SME's in the EU. It is a problem but it's two-sided. SME's really need to get their act together in terms of lobbying. French SME's suffer by having little or no say nationally and they would positively leap at getting together with other states' SME organisations to lobby the EU direct.
5 The UK is part of the EU - it is not a defenceless state imposed upon from Brussels. Many EU directives are based on and/or supported by the UK. Too many commentators just want to stand on the sidelines and whinge. Why not get off your backsides and act positively - be part of the change-plan?