Mark Casci: Bashing business does nobody any good in Brexit talks

The City of London  Photo Ian West/PA Wire
The City of London Photo Ian West/PA Wire
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The seemingly never-ending soap opera of the politics of Brexit took an even more ludicrous turn of events in the last few days.

In a plot twist that would have never been signed off by a soap opera’s producers, leading members of the Conservative party took aim at the world of business in a way which even two years ago would have seemed unthinkable.

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson, once the source of comedic light relief but increasingly representing a more malevolent and macabre character, decried the corporate world’s views on the process of us leaving the European Union with the pithy rejoinder “f*** business” to a group of EU diplomats after they dared warn that failing to secure a deal with member states would pose issues for the economy.

More sinister was the quiet man himself Iain Duncan Smith, whose record in Government could at best be described as unremarkable, went one step further and linked the views of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) to the appeasement of the Nazis prior to the Second World War.

The CBI, home to nearly 200,000 companies nationwide, was accused by the former Tory leader (whose tenure lasted little over two years before he was ousted just days after telling his party to “unite or die” under his ailing leadership) brought up a spurious link regarding its approach to international politics more than 70 years ago as reasons why it cannot be treated as a credible voice on the negotiations.

Duncan Smith’s remarks led to heavy criticism from within his own party but Johnson, who must be the most unsackable frontline politician in recent memory, emerged virtually unscathed. All of this would make for a great bit of dramatic relief at the end of a hard day of work if matters were not so serious.

Airbus, home to 14,000 employees across the UK and responsible for more than 110,000 roles across its sprawling supply chain, broke its silence in the face of ongoing intransigence over the negotiations and warned that all of its UK operations will be shipped abroad if no deal is reached.

Shortly after BMW warned that it would also reevaluate its UK operations in the event of no deal being reached.

It is important to consider that neither of these two giant firms was fitting the definition of that most poisonous of neologisms “remoaner”.

They are not asking for a re-run of the referendum. They are not asking for the vote’s results to be scrapped. They are not even asking for conditions to be inserted into the negotiations or for elements of EU membership to be retained.

They are simply asking for the Government to do what it promised.

In this post-truth world it seems almost entirely natural that the views of the world of business should chime more with those of the inexperienced and socialist-leaning Labour party than with that of much of their natural bedfellows in the Conservatives.

When you have leading members of this party using such inflammatory language concerning this most vital of national debates you have presented before you fairly damning proof as to why our negotiations so far have been so fruitless.

How can we expect those at the other side of the table to take the UK seriously when it has leading members of its Government behaving in such an unstatesmanlike and childish manner?

Perhaps instead of posturing it should provide leadership and clarity to its citizens.

Prime Minister Theresa May pledged she would deliver a “Brexit that works for everyone”.

Thus far it increasingly looks as though we are going to be offered a Brexit that doesn’t work for anyone.

The Government, albeit one operating as a minority administration, made a pledge to deliver the referendum results for the whole nation.

It has a duty to the whole nation, particularly those who voted to leave, to create a new international economic framework that at the very least meets the quality which we currently have in place.

Anything less than this is a failure.