Monday, April 22, 2013

EU politics: the enemy in plain sight

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In the manner of Business for Sterling, which was part of the battle to keep the UK out of the single currency, elements of the business community have now gathered together to create a campaign to keep us in the European Union.

Nothing terrifies the corporate sector more than the idea of an independent Britain, with a free people able to think for themselves and chose their own leaders. Thus are the corporates seeking to divert attention from leaving the EU by pushing the renegotiation meme. 

Run "by business for business", the group is headed by Matthew Elliott, one-time "no" campaign wannabe, and has adopted an overtly europhile stance. Based on the belief that "the Government is right to seek a new deal for the EU and for the UK's role in Europe", it expresses the view that,
… far from being a threat to our economic interests, a flexible, competitive Europe, with more powers devolved from Brussels, is essential for growth, jobs and access to markets.
Business for Britain, it says, "is absolutely not about leaving the EU". What unites our supporters, it claims, "is an agreement that the status quo in our relationship is not working and that the Government is right to seek a new deal for the EU and the UK’s terms of membership". 

Thus, we are told, "Instead of pushing the debate to the extreme corners of  'In vs Out', we should be having a sensible discussion about what is right and what is wrong in our current arrangements. Resisting renegotiation will push public sentiment further towards Out and fast-track an EU exit".

The group is therefore "urging all political parties to join in committing themselves to a national drive to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s membership of the EU".

Unable overtly to support membership of the EU in the light of growing public hostility, corporate business has thus shifted its ground to support the unattainable objective of renegotiating the EU treaties, thereby hoping to weaken the pressure for an exit. 

This is exactly the false-flag type operation that has typified the europhile Open Europe and it is no surprise that a leading member of the Advisory Board, John Hoerner, former CEO of The Burton Group, is also a supporter of Open Europe. Similarly, both co-chairmen, Alan Halsall and John Mills, count themselves as supporters. 

It is obviously attempting to position the out campaign as one of the "extreme corners", and place itself as hosting "a sensible discussion" – the classic strategy for marginalising the "out movement", and making the platform indistinguishable from the European Movement. Effectively, it becomes indistinguishable from the EM clone, Business for a New Europe, with a virtually identical pitch. 

Needless to say, the new group is being given a free pass by the media, with gushing pieces in theTelegraph, the Mail and the Express, and – predictably – a warm welcome from Conservative Home.

It never was the case that the establishment was going to stand back and let the people leave the EU without a fight.  It is thus running true to form, fudging the debate, and dressing corporate interest in the clothes of jobs and economic prosperity. 

T'was ever thus, of course, but at least we have five hundred of them broken cover. More of the enemy is in plain sight.