Why is big business silent over Brexit?

Entrepreneurs and small firms on both sides of the argument have spoken out freely about Brexit. So too have bosses of foreign-owned companies. But the “Trappist silence” maintained by many of the UK’s largest firms “has become deafening” – even though surveys suggest the majority of corporate bosses would prefer to stay in the EU and support a second referendum. One can understand their reasons for keeping quiet; they’re afraid of alienating politicians, their own people and their customers. No business leader wants to be accused of being “an enemy of the people” or of “improperly interfering in the democratic process”. And they don’t want to be labelled “defeatist” either.

Even so, directors are “required by law to disclose to stakeholders issues that affect investment, viability and jobs – and there are few bigger potential issues than Brexit”. It’s hard to see any of the generals of British business breaking their silence for a while yet. “But if Brexit goes ahead and does, indeed, prove a disaster”, they will have to explain to shareholders “why on earth they said nothing when they had the chance”. (Patrick Hosking, The Times, carried in The Week 17 Nov 2018).

Business silence is not the only silence. Britain badly needs a rapid realignment of politics, and quickly. On one side we have dangerous plotters, who lied to the people at the time of the referendum, are alleged to have taken Russian money for their misguided campaign, and who want to dismantle the welfare state. On the other hand we have a Labour party led by a Brexiteer stuck in the thought processes of the 1950s, and equally unsuitable as national leader.

Where are the Liberal Democrats and moderate Conservatives and Labour politicians? Why are they not forming a Patriotic Front to drop Brexit altogether and focus on the legitimate concerns of those outside the South East of England who feel ignored and powerless. This realignment might be disagreeable to some and might turn out to be temporary, but the future of the country is at stake, and much within the purview of all who espouse the teachings of Epicurus and who want peace of mind and a pleasant, un-fraught life, without turmoil and deprivation.

One Comment

  1. I have a few theories as to why Britain’s businesses aren’t expressing more opposition to Brexit:
    Most of them believe reversing Brexit isn’t possible, even if it was desirable. A 2nd referendum, while increasingly likely, still probably won’t happen. Given the perceived inevitability of Brexit, opposing it is a fool’s game.
    The government’s deal, while far from ideal, doesn’t do as much damage as was originally feared. It provides much needed certainty. Trying to undermine May’s deal could lead to No Deal, or a Corbyn government, both of which businesses fear.
    Businesses aren’t political entities. They act in the interest of the their shareholders, but don’t ascribe to any political ideology as such. So they have no attachment to the EU beyond it’s economic benefits. They can’t make the emotional case for EU membership.
    Businesses are increasingly aware much of the country views them with suspicion. Towing a pro EU line could result in a backlash against Brussels, however inadvertently. Businesses, and the CBI in particular, are perceived to be a part of the establishment Leave voters despise.

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