Last Thursday morning, the D-Day anniversary, I had the opportunity to talk about Brexit with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). Their DC office, run by John Dickerman, brought us the expertise of Will McGarrigle, a CBI senior trade policy advisor in from London. The breakfast event was also sponsored by the Trade and Policy Committee of the British-American Business Association. The meeting was attended by about a dozen people, mostly from U.S. law, trade, and defense interests.
The London CBI consensus on Brexit? They loathe it. It would be a disaster for British trade. Was that the verbatim analysis of Mr. McGarrigle? No, of course not. Egads, man, he’s British. But his inferences were not hard to read.
They were challenged by the redoubtable Hillary Fordwich, a friend of mine who covers Brexit for Newsmax, amongst her other accomplishments. Hillary and I, sitting next to each other and passing ideologically indignant notes between each other like cheesed-off seventh graders, were more than a tad suspicious of an analysis that seemed to favor an undemocratic stitch-up between big business and the political class. She challenged the CBI rep on his contention that British business was not prepared for a no-deal Brexit.
Fordwich comments: “British businesses, despite the pervasive gloom and doom predictions in the event of a no-deal Brexit, are ready. According to a Bank of England survey conducted in March, two-thirds of 286 businesses surveyed reported having contingency plans for a no-deal exit, up from less than half in January.
“Ignoring the media hysteria and political shenanigans, sensible CEOs are pressing on. They’re developing new channels at lower costs, finding local suppliers, and turning to their special relationship friends across the Atlantic.”
Given the CBI represents the highest echelons of British industry, their overly cautious attitude is not a very big surprise. They feel the unknown factors of Brexit represent a gamble for them. McGarrigle was quite erudite and eloquent in his defense of that, shall we say, interesting stance.
Though what others at the confab brought up, and CBI admitted, was that this was not only an economic question but also a political question. The British people approved Brexit and put national sovereignty over European trade relations. In a representative government you would suppose that would be the deciding factor. Unless, one thinks Britain is an oligarchy.
Which, regardless of their much noted class system, they are not. For no self-respecting oligarchy would allow a public vote on such an issue of importance. What the UK does have is an issue with an unresponsive pseudo-elite who prefer a German-run Eurostate to the democratic will of their own countrymen.
So those opponents of Brexit, devoid of other options since a Tory leadership fight for prime minister is afoot and the frontrunners are all Brexiteers, are returning to their roots like dogs to sickness and resurrecting Project Fear. That was their unsuccessful campaign to scare the British people into voting against Brexit in 2016 by intoning the likelihood of all manner of upcoming disasters if Brexit was approved.
This time The Evening Standard, a newspaper edited by George Osborne, has updated the fear factor. Osborne is the former number two to Prime Minister Cameron. They both resigned after their loss on Brexit.
So get this.
The paper has run a picture of President Trump in an ad that exhorts the British people to reject Brexit, as that ogre of a ruffian Trump supports it. Brexit will, it states, give control of the sceptered isle to the madman from Queens, not potentially to those figures of sound logic and serious probity like Marxist Jeremy Corbyn and his brain-dead acolytes who also now favor a mulligan vote and thus, by blatant implication like the ad, Remain.
The British people had the wisdom to reject Remain and Project Fear three years ago. The likely new PM Boris Johnson will I wager do the same. Thus I look forward to a future CBI briefing when they accurately interpret the mutual benefits of the new US-UK Trade Agreement. A deal only made possible by the Halloween 2019 exit of the UK from the EU.
On that day Project Fear and their desperate anti-Trump gambit will be replaced by a policy of, dare I say it: Making Great Britain Great Again.