Pandering to the fat cats?

A recording was leaked to the UK Press recently. It was a conference call between Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, and bosses from Amazon, Siemens, Tesco and other multinationals, in which they all discuss how to block a no-deal Brexit. It’s a key concern for such companies, and you can see why. The giants do well out of the EU system. Rather than having to invest in machinery and training, they can rely on a steady flow of imported cheap labour. They can afford lobbyists to ensure the regulations work for them, not least by serving as a barrier to entry for smaller competitors. So naturally they want to preserve the status quo.

“But “Brexit was a vote to change the system” and was much favoured by small companies, which were more likely to support it. Yet as the Hammond tape shows, ministers only listen to the big companies – the small ones don’t get a look in. As the party of business, the Tories ought to be on the side of the “small guy” as well. “Colluding with corporates about how best to frustrate a referendum result isn’t a good look.” (Fraser Nelson Daily Telegraph reported in The Week, 26 January 2019)

For non-Brits this is a good example of the sly misinformation put out by the right wing media. Of course big companies want to avoid Britain crashing out of the EU. It would be very damaging and disruptive to businesses, large and small, cascading down, with trade disrupted and great uncertainty.

The amateurish manner in which Brexit was presented to the British public might have persuaded some business owners that it would be advantageous, but now they have learned the real, hard facts and have seen the dismal economic forecasts, it defies logic and common sense for small businessmen to back Brexit at all. The only reason they might is personal feelings about immigrants. I have little regard for the Chancellor, but what is he supposed to do, phone thousands of small companies, one at a time?

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