Business Secretary Sajid Javid has fired a shot across the bows of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) regarding its recent claim Britain should remain in the European Union “no matter what”. Yes – this is the same CBI which received £800,000 in grants from the European Commission in the last five five years.
Javid points out that making such statements while Prime Minister David Cameron is trying to negotiate a better deal for Britain will only undermine his efforts. The pro-EU Guardian newspaper said their comments will be “exploited by any half-alert EU politician or Brussels bureaucrat.”
The CBI claims to speak for 190,000 British businesses and has recently told its members to “turn up the volume” on the so-called ‘benefits’ of EU membership. They often claim “the large majority of those companies believe the benefits of EU membership outweigh the disadvantages.”
This claim, however, comes from a survey they conducted in 2013 in which only 415 British businesses responded. Perhaps they were too busy with burdensome EU red tape to respond! It is preposterous to claim the majority of British companies want to stay in the EU based on a survey of less than 0.25 per cent of its members.
Their research – as flawed as it appears – suggests 50 per cent of businesses would like to reform the regulatory burden on them, which is a staggering amount considering that only five per cent of British businesses trade directly with the EU.
It is hard to underestimate the vast amount of European regulations which now apply to the UK. According to the Government: “50 per cent of all UK legislation with a significant economic impact originates from EU legislation.”
Over the last 40 years, thousands of EU laws have automatically been placed on the UK statute books, while treaties have passed control of key areas of national concern (such as VAT and policy regulation) to the European Commission.
A recent report published by Business for Britain suggests nearly 50 per cent of businesses now believe the costs of complying with the single market outweigh the benefit of being in the EU.
The CBI, while waving the banner for Brussels, ignores the genuine concerns voiced across the business community, from the ever expanding red tape to the financial burden it places on them. As Sajid Javid stated, it makes no sense to say, so early in the renegotiation process: “the rules of this club need to change, but don’t worry – we’ll always be members no matter what.”
Whatever is on Cameron’s ‘shopping list’ of reforms, you can bet his MEPs will conclude there is no need for Treaty change. Obviously the EU federalists would never allow it in the first place, but this only highlights the futile position the PM currently finds himself in. The cosmetic changes placed on the table will be presented to the British public as the ‘best deal’ possible.
The EU Leaders’ unwillingness to entertain Cameron’s reforms, thus far, has only strengthened the case to Get Britain Out.
Chris Muspratt is a researcher at campaign group Get Britain Out