CBI Dancing to Boris’s No Deal Tune

Boris’s strategy of doing the opposite of what his opponents expect – and actually being serious about leaving the EU deal or no deal – is continuing to yield results. Now it’s Eurosceptics’ longtime adversary the CBI who have been forced to come round. Director-General Carolyn Fairbairn took to The Times to set out their new “pragmatic” approach to no deal:

“Our view has not changed. Business wants a deal. But we are also pragmatists. We have been preparing our members for the possibility of no deal for many months. Now is the time to shift to an emergency footing… And, contrary to some claims, the EU is behind the UK in its plans to prevent the worst effects…

“The CBI has set out more than 200 recommendations for action. For the government, it shows that good work has been carried out in prioritising short-term stability and temporary measures, such as its approach to licences for regulated EU goods imports…

“For the EU, it means at least matching the UK’s sensible temporary mitigations in a range of areas. They must look at further potential temporary standstills and extensions of emergency measures, especially around borders and data flows. They should also bring forward the ability for UK firms to apply for essential licences as a third country before the UK leaves…

“Two stark messages stand out. The first is to get on with the work. The second is to get back to the negotiating table so that this wasteful and complex process becomes redundant. The EU’s preparations lag the UK’s so it’s in their interest as much as ours to use the dynamic of a new prime minister to reset the approach.”

The Times’ write-up even included the phrasing “the CBI is pressing Brussels to drop its boycott of talks”. Who’d have thought we’d see the day when the UK’s ‘biggest’ business lobby group finally decided to put the pressure on Brussels rather than Downing Street – as it has for the last three years? When the PM actually leads, others follow…

London Chamber of Commerce Hits Back at CBI’s No Deal Scare

The CBI have waded into the Tory leadership race with an entirely predictable open letter sent to all the candidates warning against the supposed horrors of a no-deal Brexit. They might as well just auto-schedule the same press release every three weeks. It’s only going to get worse when ultra-Remain fanatic Lord Bilimoria takes over as CBI President…

Not all business groups share their pessimism – now the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry has hit back at the CBI, with chief executive David Frost pointing out the obvious logical flaws with the CBI’s hardline position:

“It is all very well to insist the next Prime Minister must avoid Brexit on WTO terms and instead strike a deal with the EU. But no Prime Minister can actually guarantee that.

“That is because it isn’t just a UK decision: it’s also for the EU. That is why, as we have said, business needs to be confident that Government is still preparing for a No Deal Brexit and engaging fully with business organisations and individual firms.

“Although some of our members cannot prepare effectively, others can, and did so in the run up to 29 March. For them, it is the prolonged uncertainty that is damaging. So the new Conservative leader should aim to bring clarity as soon as possible.”

Business wants certainty on Brexit, not indecision…

The Many Bad Calls of the CBI

The CBI has endorsed Theresa May’s draft withdrawal agreement, Guido thought it would be a good time to remind younger readers of its long and distinguished history of making bad political calls:

  • In the 1930s it supported appeasement.
  • In the 1940s it supported nationalisation.
  • In the 1950s it supported state planning.
  • In the 1960s it supported tripartite industrial relations.
  • In the 1970s it supported price controls.
  • In the 1980s it opposed getting tough with the USSR.
  • In the 1990s it supported the ERM.
  • In the 2000s it supported joining the Euro.
  • In the 2010s it supported Remain…
  • … and now it has declared its support for May’s draft withdrawal agreement.

Not exactly a laudable record…

Financial Services Hiring and Investment Up

The remain campaigning CBI has revealed 70% of financial services firms are increasing spending in the coming years, with the same number saying that they are ‘confident’ they will have plans in place by the end of March 2019. Pre-tax profits in the financial services sector have also risen by 118% to reach £28 billion, a growth of more than £15 billion, credited largely to a strong performance by HSBC. CBI chief economist Rain Newton-Smith said:

“It’s good to see financial firms stepping up hiring and investment, with digital technologies and new services seen as the best way to grow in a fiercely competitive environment.”

Contrary to the CBI’s own previous predictions, banks have ignored Project Fear, and instead focused on increased spending, employment and investment. In 2016, Newton-Smith said in a CBI report:

“The challenges facing the sector have not gone away – they’ve actually grown. Add the uncertainty caused by Brexit to low interest rates, technological change and strong competition, and it’s plain to see why optimism is falling and pressure on margins remains intense.”

More CBI nonsense debunked…

Coordinated Remain Effort to Back Customs Partnership

 

Greg Clark – one of the most ultra Remain Cabinet members – was up on Marr this morning to defend their customs partnership. If anyone was in any doubt, this is who came out immediately afterwards to back their proposal:

CBI: “We welcome the Secretary of State’s recognition that any customs solution must deliver this goal, with no tariffs or additional border checks, delays or red tape for EU/UK exports and imports, which account for nearly half of all UK trade. This is a time for pragmatic solutions, not ideology.”

British Chambers of Commerce: “An agreement to maintain something close to the status quo until new rules, technology, infrastructure and staff are in place is a no-brainer. The alternative is greater uncertainty, disrupted supply chains, and one costly adjustment after another.”

Best for Britain:  “Greg Clark’s warning is right but it shows how weak the Prime Minister actually is. That Number 10 has sent out a senior minister to virtually beg their colleagues to change tack shows how the Prime Minister is in office but not in power.”

Amber Rudd: “Quite right, making the case clearly and yes, passionately, for a Brexit that protects existing jobs and future investment.”

Nicky Morgan: “The people that are sabre-rattling about leadership, who are threatening votes and motions of no confidence are the people that want the hardest of hard Brexits.”

Anna Soubry: “The PM has got to sort out and see off these ideologues, who are blighting our party… I don’t think they represent the best interests of British business… I don’t care whether you call it a customs union, an arrangement, or a partnership.”

That last Soubry comment rather letting the cat out of the bag – the customs partnership is a customs union in all but name…

CBI: Everything is Awesome

Manufacturing order books were close to a 30 year high in the three months to December, according to the latest monthly CBI Industrial Trends Survey. The numbers are awesome:

  • 28% of manufacturers reported total order books to be above normal, at the +17% level last seen in August 1988.
  • 28% of firms said their export order books were above normal at +16%, well above the long-run average of -18%
  • 42% of businesses said the volume of output over the past three months was up, and 11% said it was down, giving a rounded balance of +30% above the long-run average of +4%
  • 29% of companies expect average selling prices to increase in the coming three months, with 6% predicting a decline, giving a balance of +23%

In addition the CBI’s Employment Trends Survey of 299 firms employing around 1 million people found that 51% of firms across the UK will grow their workforce in the year ahead, with confidence highest amongst small and mid-sized firms (58%). The majority (52%) of firms aim to raise pay for their employees in line with or above inflation in the coming year. Despite the gloomy predictions in the remainstream media, businesses are doing reasonably well and expect to carry on doing well… 

CBI: Brexit the Worst Thing to Happen In Any Country in the World Ever

Guido awards the Order of the OTT to the president of the CBI Paul Drechsler, who told a City of London Corporation party last night that Brexit is the “most serious issue any country in the world has ever had to face”. Yep, forget the Russian civil war, Chernobyl, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Blitz, the Great Chinese Famine, the Black Death, the Irish potato famine, the introduction of smallpox to South America, the 1971 Iranian blizzard, 9/11, the Nanking massacre, the break-up of Bucks Fizz, the Great Depression or the assassination of JFK. According to the CBI it is Brexit that is the worst thing to happen in any country in the world ever. Peak Remoan…

H/T Politico Playbook

CBI Survey: Everything is Awesome for Manufacturing

The ONS Q2 fall in manufacturing is due to a significant drop in the manufacture of cars. Elsewhere it’s a different picture if you read the new CBI Quarterly Trends survey, a long-standing survey of 397 blue-chip manufacturers which shows the state of Britain PLC. This quarter is astounding when you remember the predictions of economic disaster rolled out by George Osborne last year. The numbers are awesome:

  • 32% of manufacturers said employee numbers with headcount increasing at the fastest rate for three years and hiring intentions for the coming quarter also improved.
  • Expectations for growth in export orders improved to a four-decade high.
  • Export optimism is strong, 43% of firms said the volume of output over the past three months was up – the highest since January 1995.
  • 35% of businesses reported an increase in total orders.
  • Domestic orders were up +19%, with export orders growth remaining strong at +17%.
  • Alongside robust expectations for demand, firms accumulated raw materials at the fastest pace in forty years and stocks of work-in-progress expanded at a record rate. Strong confidence levels saw stock building of raw materials (+20%) which was the strongest since April 1977 (+22%), whilst stocks of work-in-progress rose (+16%).

By any measure these are good numbers, in the context of Osborne’s predictions for an immediate economic collapse, job losses, a collapse of business confidence and investment, these numbers are awesome. Reading the FT you’d never know it…

Remainers Using Permanent Transition to Reverse Brexit

The CBI – the Europhile business body which is funded by Brussels – has demanded the UK stays inside the single market and customs union until a free trade deal is agreed. This proposal for a limitless transition is being picked up by other Remainers. No one should be fooled by the write-ups in the broadsheets – this is an attempt to frustrate Brexit. Since January continuity Remainers have focused their attention on securing a permanent transition period which ultimately keeps us inside the EU. One of the most senior Remain figures from the referendum told Guido himself they wanted a lengthy transition lasting years, by which point they hoped the public mood had changed and Brexit could be prevented. Yesterday’s CBI proposal fits that plan. As Gisela Stuart says: “Committing to stay in the EU’s single market and customs union during a transition period would only serve to tie our hands in the negotiations, and make it more likely that the EU gives us a bad deal”. A transitional period is fine so long as it is strictly time-limited and we leave the institutions of the European Union by clearly set dates. The CBI’s desire to keep it open-ended risks becoming a permanent transition, and they know it… 

British Manufacturers’ Order Books At 29 Year High

UK manufacturers’ order books are at their highest level since August 1988. A CBI survey of 464 firms found a “broad-based improvement” in 13 out of 17 manufacturing sub-sectors, with food, drink and tobacco and chemicals leading the British-made boom. Meanwhile, export orders rocketed to a 22-year high. CBI Chief Economist Rain Newton-Smith said:

“Britain’s manufacturers are continuing to see demand for “Made in Britain” goods rise with the temperature. Total and export order books are at highs not seen for decades, and output growth remains robust.”

This is the same CBI that warned before Brexit that an out vote would cause a “serious economic shock“, set to cost £1 billion to the economy and threaten nearly 1 million jobs. This time last year, 70% of surveyed city economists predicted the UK would by now be in recession. Experts…

CBI Paid £1 Million By Brussels

cbi-voice-of-brussles

Guido’s data bods have crunched the numbers and worked out the Europhile CBI took yet more money from the EU while ‘unofficially’ campaigning for Remain. The big business Brexit scaremongers took £1,092,135 from the European Commission between 2009 and 2016 – £455,448 since Cameron announced he would hold a referendum. This is an increase of over £292,135 since a previous study in 2014 of the CBI’s relationship with the EU. In exchange the CBI campaigned for Britain to join the Euro, backed more transfers of power away from Westminster and lobbied Cameron not to secure major reform in his renegotiation. Via the CBI’s published accounts, it is possible to calculate how valuable both these EU funds and public sector contributions are to the CBI – EU funds equated to 21% of the CBI’s income after tax. 

CBI’s Pro-EU Report By EU-Funded PWC

pwc cbi

Splashed all over the papers this morning is the CBI’s warning that Brexit would cause a “serious economic shock”, costing £100 billion and nearly 1 million jobs. The numbers come from a report by Pricewaterhouse Coopers, the big four firm that – guess what – is in the pay of Brussels. PwC state on their website that they are “proud to be associated with the EU’s key initiatives and programmes, having provided independent advice to the EU over the past decades”. Here are some of the specialist EU services offered by PWC…

pwc

How many millions has PwC made from offering its services to the EU? A huge undeclared interest in all the media coverage this morning…

CBI’s Unofficial Campaign to Remain

CBI PIC

The CBI has announced that it will make the “economic case [for Britain] to remain’ in the EU, following an internal poll revealing that 80% of members support staying in. Yet they’re refusing to officially endorse Remain…

“The CBI presently is not planning to register as a permitted participant with the Electoral Commission. The CBI will remain compliant whilst continuing to represent the views of its members in the referendum debate e.g. through press releases and broadcast interviews. The CBI is in touch with the Electoral Commission who have provided guidance and has taken independent legal advice to ensure our plans comply.”

Could it be that the CBI are scared of having a repeat of the Scottish referendum? Back in April last year they came out in favour of the Better Together campaign for Scotland to vote to stay in the UK. The resulting backlash concerning the organisation’s neutrality caused a number of other ‘independent’ organisations to withdraw their membership, including the BBC, Scottish broadcaster STV, the Law Society of Scotland and most of the country’s universities. As a result, the CBI was forced to back down and remain neutral. Does this explain their curious and cunning ‘unofficial’ stance this time round?

CBI Beg For Solar Cash

solar-cash

The CBI have launched an all-out assault on Amber Rudd’s plans to cut green crap this morning, with their director General John Cridland briefing the newspapers that the cuts will send a “worrying signal” to business. He sounds a bit like a Greenpeace spokesman…

“The green economy is an emerging market in its own right, brimming with opportunity… Yet, with the roll-back of renewables policies and the mixed messages on energy efficiency, the government risks sending a worrying signal to businesses… We need all countries to pull in the same direction at the Paris Climate Summit (in November) to give firms the certainty and confidence they need to invest in the green economy for the long run”.

What is it about businesses with guaranteed government backed revenue that the big biz Brexit scaremongers at the CBI like so much?

Sajid Slams CBI: Stinging Speech Threatens Brexit

The Business Secretary let the CBI have it at the Corinthia last night, telling them to their faces that their pro-EU intransigence doesn’t “make sense”:

“Imagine my surprise last month, when I attended an event much like this one and heard that the CBI thinks the UK should remain in the European Union no matter what. That the people of Britain should vote to stay in regardless of whether or not the Prime Minister wins the concessions that British business so badly needs. That none of the concerns the CBI has raised over the years are actually that significant. 

Of course you’re entirely free to come to that conclusion. But does it really make sense to say, so early in the process: … “the rules of this club need to change… but don’t worry, we’ll always be members no matter what happens”?

You’re some of Britain’s most respected, most successful business leaders. You know how negotiation works. You wouldn’t dream of sit down at the start of a merger or acquisition and like a poker player showing his hand to the table announce exactly what terms you were prepared to accept. It doesn’t work in the boardroom and it won’t work in Brussels.”

Before turning their own words against them:

“You have never been shy about highlighting the ways in which the EU can hamper and undermine British business. Here’s three quotes:

“The likely effect of many of Brussels’ current proposals will be to damage the UK’s prospects for growth.” That was John [Cridland], speaking in 2011.

“We don’t want a situation where smaller firms are saddled with poorly thought-out EU regulations which impede their ability to grow.” So said Katja [Hall] in 2013.

“The European Parliament’s decision … is bad for business … it will make it harder for firms to grow and export across Europe.” That was Sean McGuire, your man in Brussels, in a statement made four years ago.

These are all valid complaints, all concerns I share. They’re exactly the kind of points the CBI should be making to defend the interests of its members.”

Praising the CBI’s rivals while being hosted by John Cridland will have gone down like a cup of cold sick:

“Look at the stance taken by the Institute of Directors and the British Chambers of Commerce. Like the CBI, the IoD and BCC are great cheerleaders British business. Like the CBI, they want the renegotiation process to deliver genuine reform. But unlike the CBI, they’re waiting until that process is complete before recommending how to vote in the referendum.”

Finishing with a warning that Brexit shouldn’t be ruled out:

“We must speak with one voice. And we must be unafraid to say that we could walk away if Brussels refuses to compromise.”

Bravo for giving the CBI a deserved slap, but you can’t help reading this and thinking much of it could apply to the PM…

CBI Step Up Pro-EU Campaign Activity

Big business Brexit scaremongers the CBI are stepping up their campaigning activity for an EU ‘Yes’ vote. The “politically independent and impartial” lobbyists are hiring a campaigns adviser on a competitive salary “to promote the CBI’s messages on Europe”. Little doubt from the advert what that message is: 

“With an in-out referendum on the UK’s EU membership now on the table, the CBI is recruiting for a Campaigns Adviser to assist with the organisation’s day-to-day work in this area… the benefits of the UK’s EU membership outweigh the costs and no alternative arrangement offers the UK a better route to future prosperity.”

Key to the job will be remembering the CBI’s farcical Scottish referendum shambles and sorting out their status as a registered campaigner this time round…

Seen Elsewhere



Tip offs: 020 7193 4041
team@Order-order.com

Quote of the Day

The Daily Mirror has heard that at the shadow cabinet meeting, Nick Brown lost his train of thought so John McDonnell handed over a piece of paper to help out.

Brown: “You’re really helpful“.

McDonnell: “Yes I am. But it would be great if somebody could tell Skwawkbox that“.

 

Sponsors

Guidogram: Sign up

Subscribe to the most succinct 7 days a week daily email read by thousands of Westminster insiders.