Another very curious news release this morning from Business for Britain, yet again giving credence to the view that something sufficiently substantial will emerge from Cameron’s EU renegotiation.
What are this lot up to….along with several others in the Tory constellation who are openly adopting a position of ‘wait and see’?
There are really only 3 reasons/options why one would take this approach:
1. One is being ‘clever’, knowing all along that Cameron won’t produce anything of substance, and when he doesn’t, you then feign surprise, disappointment and perhaps even a little anger that this historic opportunity has been missed and you then passionately support an EU NO vote.
2. One genuinely believes that Cameron’s renegotiation could produce something acceptable, therefore it’s worth waiting for. Meanwhile one must be seen to put some pressure on the PM by wheeling out business people who say exit holds no fears.
3. One is actually pro-EU.
A further thread running through these three options is Tory loyalty: There is no disloyalty on display (yet) in any of the above options. Only open disbelief in the prime minister at this stage could fall prey to that charge.
So where is Business for Britain in the above?
In the early days I had thought they were adopting the first option but as each new press release hits the streets, it is ever clearer that they have adopted the second. The language and tone is simply far too believing in Cameron, right down to trusting the “I rule nothing out” statement. Add all this to B4B’s own list of ‘reforms’ which look as anaemic as Cameron’s (and very similar in a number of respects) and one sees that they are seeking to build influence over the PM, much as Open Europe has done in recent years. And like Open Europe, they are in the business of bringing sceptical Tory politicians and newspapers into their network of influence by feeding them a constant diet of moderately sceptical stories and soundbites. Also like Open Europe they initially appear to be ‘onside’.
But in the final analysis Business for Britain have no stomach for a fight, especially one which they have long since calculated they are likely to lose. Like Business for Sterling before them, this is a group that must be seen to win – they want to maintain & extend their influence in the corridors of power at all costs. This is what drives them. That and holding no principled opposition to the EU’s supranationalist character and ambition.
From that perspective, it becomes clear that their motives do not actually fall under Option 2 but Option 3. Once that is recognised, the parallels with Open Europe’s own journey become clear and complete.
These people are not our friends.