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EU politics: CBI scrapes the bottom of the barrel

Richard North, 31/12/2012  


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You can be assured that, whenever the European Union debate reaches any level of prominence, up will pop the Confederation of British Industry on the wrong side of the argument, spraying out scare stories with gay abandon.

Right on cue, therefore, out of the woodwork comes CBI director-general, John Cridland, full of the wobblies about how the UK must stay in "Europe" to "boost business success".

What is so predictable and dire about the man is the leaden language and the total absence of imagination. The corporate bureaucrat thus tells us in his New Year address that "the UK has ensured its values of free and open trade have been at the heart of Europe over the last 40 years".

One gets so tired and bored with the CBI's delusional drivel, scraping the bottom of the barrel of the europhile arguments. The EU (and the EEC before it) has never embraced free trade within the territorial boundaries of its member states, the grouping comprising a customs union, which is a very different thing. It is designed not to pursue economic prosperity but to drive political union.

This has always made the CBI a very suspicious organisation. Dominated by big business, and then by multinational corporations, it has a greater affinity to the corporate, centralist world of the EU than it does free enterprise – and even freedom itself.

Thus, its propaganda has been devoted to selling the prospect that the EU is "good for business", when what it actually means is that its corporate interests are best served by a supranational government in Brussels, rather than it having to deal with a messy grouping of national governments.

So does Cridland dress up his organisation's interests by telling us that the UK has been helping to create "one of the biggest successes of the European Union – the Single Market".

Yet, so great is this "success" that since the turn of the Century alone – a mere twelve years – we have accumulated a trade deficit with the rest of the EU of over £300 billion, with the total trade deficit since we joined the EEC in 1973 running to over £450 billion.

But, according to Cridland, "It' s essential we stay at the table to bang the drum for businesses and defend our national interest, particularly protecting our world-class financial services industry to maintain our competitiveness internationally".

It is, of course, the ultimate arrogance of the CBI to equate its own corporate interests with those of the national interest, shaping the agenda on Single Market reform; on climate change; protecting the financial services industry; and promoting new trade agreements.

That we could do all this and more outside the EU (if we wanted to), is obviously of no relevance to the CBI. This dire organisation has become (and has been for a long time) a propaganda arm of the European Union (and the EEC before that), pursuing the interests of the "colleagues".

It has long forgotten what the "B" in CBI stands for and is best treated as the enemy – as should anyone who projects their narrow sectional interests as representing the national interest.

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