In the run up to Christmas, we learned that the CBI was reporting manufacturing order books at a 30-year high and export order books at a 20-year high. Forbes magazine reported that the UK is the best place in the world to do business. The Bank of England said that the City of London is Europe’s Banker and advocated what amounted to unilateral financial “passporting” into London. The EU chief negotiator declared that any transition period must end in 2020 (hurrah!). There was an agreement on a move to the next phase of negotiations with the EU.
Should we feel optimistic?
Well, we also witnessed Lord Heseltine declaring that leaving the EU is worse than having Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister. The establishment, by definition, favour the status quo because the status quo favours them. The establishment are appalled and angry that the population have had the effrontery to depart from the norm. After all, those who believe that politics is the application and exercise of power and that democracy is about the manipulation of the people had a terrible shock in June 2016 – when the silent majority spoke and said they were prepared to take a risk for a better future, to shake up the status quo. Suddenly, the majority became the radicals and allied themselves with the many entrepreneurs, natural disrupters and risk takers, who supported the Leave campaign and still do.
Seeing the “glass half empty”, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) establishment this week declared that it is vital that the British Government obtain trade relations with the EU as soon as possible in order that companies can continue to import from the EU without tariffs and without disruption. At one stroke this undermines the UK’s negotiating position, since it demands a single outcome, presumably at any cost – something that no business would ever do in a negotiation. It completely ignores the massive export and current account benefits of a competitive currency, and also is blind to the ability of the UK to unilaterally remove tariffs on imports once we leave the EU. Most astonishingly of all, it runs completely contrary to the campaign the BCC ran for years and which was always Number One on the current Director General’s agenda: the demand from business for deregulation, something which is only possible if we leave the EU.
To read John Longworth’s piece for ConservativeHome in full, click here.