Wishful thinking at the CBI

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I was struck by an article in The Sunday Telegraph of July 20th, by the CBI’s Deputy Director General Katja Hall.  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/10978196/Lets-dispel-the-myth-we-lack-allies-in-Brussels.html.   “Let’s dispel the myth that we have no allies in Brussels”, it’s headlined.  And as an example of wishful thinking, of the triumph of hope over experience, this would be hard to beat.
Ms. Hall was born in Sweden in 1972 (if the internet is to be trusted).  That was the year in which we in the UK were debating the last stages of our application to join the “Common Market”, as we knew it then.  We joined in 1973, though our referendum on Harold Wilson’s nugatory “renegotiation” didn’t happen until 1975.  (We should remind David Cameron of that when he tells us that you can’t possibly have a retrospective referendum).
But this all means that Katja, now presumably forty-two or so, was far too young to be paying attention to those debates, and presumably only came to political awareness when British membership had been an established fact of life for some time.  It shows.
Take the headline: “The myth that we lack allies in Brussels”.  As recently as the last few weeks, PM Dave was assuring us that he had allies in Europe, in his strident campaign to block Jean Claude Juncker form the Presidency of the European Commission.  Angela Merkel had hinted at support.  Italy’s Matteo Renzi was making helpful noises (though only, it now seems, as a negotiating tactic to secure some relaxation of the fiscal rules). We had allies in Brussels.  Dave was confident.  But when push came to shove, we found ourselves in a minority of two, and Juncker got the job.

The plain fact is (as Katja might know if she had followed these issues a little longer) that we find ourselves in a structural “Anglo Saxon” minority, occasionally but uncertainly supported by a few northern EU countries, but not able to call the shots — or even to block Juncker.  And now we find ourselves in a second structural minority — the non-euro-zone countries.  So within the EU, groups of countries that reject key areas of our policies and interests will always outvote us.  We are paying billions a year for membership of a club where we are in a permanent and inevitable disadvantage.
Katja tells us that Lord “Who’s He?” Hill, our British nomination for EU Commissioner, has “a golden opportunity to get the best deal for Britain in Europe”. Nonsense.  I’ve followed EU affairs for many years, and I’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve been told that we should be confident, we should go in and negotiate, we have politicians and civil servants as good as any in Europe, we have allies in Brussels, we can win for Britain.  Game, Set & Match!  But we have forty years experience to show that it always ends in tears.
The EU bus is on the route to “ever closer union”, to a full unitary state called Europe.  We have a binary choice.  We can carry on to the  centralised European State, or we can get off the bus.  There is no third way.

Many other comments from Katja underscore her naive and misplaced optimism.  We need reform in competition, trade and energy (strange that she misses one of the main problem areas, employment) for Europe to “remain competitive”.  Remain, Katja, remain?  Don’t you understand the disaster of EU energy policy, and energy prices?  Have you listened to our energy-intensive industries?  People like Jim Ratcliffe of INEOS, who says that the chemicals industry in Europe will die in ten years without a change of course?  Out-going Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani says that energy prices are “creating an industrial massacre” in Europe.  Does the CBI have a different view?  Or is it ignoring reality?  Remain competitive?  We need to get competitive first.
The article says that several EU countries have expressed the hope that Britain will remain in the EU.  Indeed they have.  That’s because we’re the last voice of common sense, against the social corporatism of the majority.  It might be good for those countries if Britain stays.  But it won’t be good for us.
Most ironic is Katja’s vain hope that the Commission will heed “the clarion call for change still ringing in the ears if the EU hierarchy after May’s euro-elections”.  But they’ve made their position clear — not least by the appointment of  Juncker.  Their one and only idea for EU reform is “more of the same”.  The EU institutions have a towering contempt for public opinion — as testified by their repeated rejection of referendum results.  They won’t let a little thing like a reverse in the euro-elections stand in their way.

“We need the conviction to win the arguments over EU membership at home, and make the UK’s case in the corridors of Brussels”, says Katja plaintively.  Forty years’ experience for the UK in the EU says it can’t be done.  The EU is beyond reform.  It deserves to be put out of its misery.  The best service we can do for Europe is to leave the EU, and to demonstrate the huge benefits of independence, democracy, freedom and free markets.
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14 Responses to Wishful thinking at the CBI

  1. Thomas Fox says:

    Common sense tells me you are correct
    The whole administration in Brussels is one huge talking shop that is costing its members more and more with no benefit to the UK people !

  2. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Meanwhile Putin rolls around the world setting up a bank to counter the IMF and World Bank. That includes Brazil, Russia, India,China,S. Africa. Venezuala, Argentina and Cuba is in there too. So just what is the CBI other than a friend of the EU. Stuff is happening!

    I think the alarm about the EU and USA is well underway despite the dead heads of the UK Coalition and friends?. And then Cameron sacks the grey, male and stale allegedly to counter UKIP….gun fired into head?

    Anyway, let the hand wringing begin!

    • Jane Davies says:

      Must have missed that one Colin living as I do across the pond. Cameron’s reshuffle was to counter UKIP! He has to be joking or delusional if he really thinks that will make a jot of difference. Just goes to show his contempt for the intelligence of the electorate.

      • Ex-expat Colin says:

        Its in amongst this piece by Mr Helmer:
        “UKIP sets the agenda, …and drives the government re-shuffle” (directly below this article)
        I thought it followed the BBC’s sudden change from men to all women presenters – almost. All seems very coincidental – London luvvies? I don’t much care…as long as merit figures in this stuff.

        I follow John Redwoods blog for an insight into Tory thinking. He is a pleasant man who very regularly seeks our opinion and requirements of Gov. He’s not going to join UKIP (today) but I wonder about grey/male/stale Owen Paterson (suddenly ex – SoS for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs). I think UKIP need someone (a few) like Paterson to get past the near misses at general elections.

        Paterson informs us of the difficulties/threats he faced in DEFRA and its not good at all. It should be major ammo for UKIP.

  3. ian wragg says:

    Of course we have allies in Brussels, they are known as UK politicians headed by arch Europhile CMD.
    He is about as good as a chocolate fire guard in defending British interests and while he fiddles, the BRIC’s continue to grow. The EU is a sinking shiop and we should abandon it a.s.a.p.

  4. Mike Spilligan says:

    It’s always: Jam the day after tomorrow. An example:- Being a little older than you, Mr H, I was on my employer’s VAT committee prior to introduction and we were very surprised at the starting level of 10% as the general (national) thinking was that it would be less; say 5%. The Heath (banned word?) government announced that it would reduce when all the benefits of the single market and the efficiencies of standardized regulations were achieved. We don’t need a computer to tell us how much it’s “reduced”.

    • DICK R says:

      If my memory serves me purchase tax, on items where it was charged was about 6%,VAT came in at 8% but was on just about everything .It seems a long time ago now !

      • David Ashton says:

        Dick, VAT was initially introduced at 10%, it was reduced to 8% by the Labour government of the 70’s to reduce headline RPI just before an election. I remember Denis Healey multiplying the quarter’s inflation by 4 to claim it had been lowered to 8%, when in reality it was well into double figures.

  5. DICK R says:

    The only allies they have are the likes of Germany ,their only objective is for the UK to remain in the EU is to help them pay for it all.
    Germany is far from dominating Europe, it is only an illusion, in fact they are nothing more than a milch cow ,who’s taxpayers watch helplessly as billions of Euros of their hard earned money is poured down the Euro drain in ever increasing quantities in a doomed operation to prop up the whole rotten edifice .
    They have gone from having the worlds best most stable currency in the D mark to sharing a currency with basket case, near third world economies, such as Greece, Cyprus and Portugal ,and with more of these basket cases lining up to join the Euro there is no end in sight.

  6. ian wragg says:

    Yesterday it was reported that the Euro was undervalued between 5 – 15% for Germany and that is how it is managing to rack up such a surplus trading account.
    Do you really think they will give up this advantage which sees the world buying German goods even though the policy is bankrupting it’s neighbours.
    The EU remains a German/French scam and will lead to the Forth Reich.

    • DICK R says:

      What is wrong with a surplus trading account ,their only problem is not them bankrupting their neighbours, but their neighbours eventually bankrupting them with the need for constant bailouts, most of them who fiddled the books in order to join the Euro in the first place.
      The Euro is at the centre of every problem ,it’s demise would be a massive relief to all concerned.

  7. Mike Stallard says:

    It seems to me that the whole problem is secrecy. If I were to say that the whole of the European parliament was empty when the President was elected, everyone would believe me. If I said that Mr Juncker was a fantastic orator, people would listen. Neither is true, but neither is reported on.
    Only if Mr Juncker did something seriously silly like making a pass as a waitress in New York would we hear anything.
    With the pall of secrecy hanging over the whole EU project, anyone can say anything.

    PS Men’s faces in power aren’t half as revealing as women’s faces in power are they.

  8. Linda Hudson says:

    there will always be more facts remembered by the public, simply because there are millions of us, as apposed to the powers that be!

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