Analysis: Business leaders are failing to make the most of a big opportunity
Businesses were pleased to hear yesterday that Jeremy Corbyn said the Labour Party is backing EU membership – but you wouldn’t know it, thanks to the deathly silence from the industry.
The issue is vital to business as membership is generally considered beneficial – enabling us to export and import, trade overseas and move money around much easier than if the UK was not part of the institution. In fact, a Brexit could cripple or obliterate some businesses overnight.
Prime Minister David Cameron has committed the UK to an in/out referendum in 2017, meaning there is a real risk of the popular vote turning against business.
So a casual bystander might assume business leaders would take this opportunity to capitalise on the current debate, but unfortunately this wasn’t the case.
Business journalists’ inboxes were noticeably quiet yesterday after the announcement, with pro-business organisations unwilling to comment on Corbyn’s announcement, for fear of agreeing with him.
LondonLovesBusiness approached the Institute of Directors and the CBI this morning – the two most vocal groups – to try and squeeze some kind of reaction from them.
The IoD told us it would soon be releasing a report on its position on staying in the EU. Meanwhile, the CBI didn’t respond at all.
These organisations might be better speaking up for the business community at every given chance, rather than being seen as putting petty politics ahead of their members’ interests.
Whatever shambles the party has been in the last few years, Labour is likely to be a crucial ally to business when it comes to the referendum vote, as the battle of the Brexit could be closer than we think.