The EU needs Britain more than we need the EU
As the Government starts “quickening the pace” of negotiations, setting out the areas where the UK needs change in its relationship with the European Union, we should not hold back in our ambitions.
Political forces and economic realities have aligned over the past few months to give Britain a very strong hand in the renegotiation of its relationship with the EU.
For the sake of future generations, we must get the coming negotiations right, and now is the time to drive a hard bargain for the benefit of all within the EU.
There are suggestions from some within the Foreign Office, the CBI and other lobby groups that the UK ought to dilute its renegotiation plans. We must resist such temptations.
The CBI has made much of the running on business’s attitudes towards the EU. How representative and influential the lobby group really is has been called into question of late. Accusations that it’s “the voice of Brussels” rather than business have been noticed, leading the CBI’s president, Paul Drechsler, to say that within its membership there is no uniform stance on Europe.
That’s a significant change in position from the organisation’s previous comments pointing towards majority support for the EU from businesses and membership being in the national interest.
The CBI is predominantly a lobby group for larger businesses. It was with this in mind that Shore Capital commissioned a widespread survey of SMEs by Business for Britain to ask them what they thought of the EU.
The survey should focus attention by virtue of the fact that its sample base represents the views of businesses employing 60pc of Britain’s private sector workers. The poll showed that 70pc of Britain’s small business owners believe any change in the UK’s EU relationship will only be meaningful if it is enshrined in the treaties.
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