Wednesday 28 February 2018

Theresa May is letting her ministers get away with publicly attacking the UK business community!

Between 2010 and somewhere around mid-2017 the CBI were relentless cheerleaders for ruinous Tory austerity dogma, and their unprecedented campaign of wage repression, but ever since it became clear that the Tory party has been completely taken over by the most extreme fringe of hard-right Europhobes, they've cooled their support for the Tories dramatically.

The CBI claim to represent the interests of 190,000 British businesses. While their relentless (and economically illiterate) support for Tory austerity dogma and wage repression seemed to go against the interests of many of their members* their stance on the Brexit negotiations is clearly focused on pushing for a Brexit deal that won't end up wrecking tens of thousands of the businesses they represent.

Some of their key priorities include not erecting damaging trade barriers with the Single Market, retaining a migration system that allows employers to find the labour they need to survive, and avoiding the economic catastrophe of a cliff edge "no deal" Brexit.

When Jeremy Corbyn announced that Labour will seek to develop a customs union agreement with the EU the CBI cautiously welcomed it as a "real world solution" to Brexit, but this mild praise caused fits of apoplexy from the Tory Brextremists.

Boris Johnson appeared on the radio to attack the once uber-Tory CBI and their leaders as "wrong". To put this in perspective, that's as extraordinary as a senior Labour figure publicly attacking one of the big unions like Unite or Unison.

The Tory International Development Secretary Liam Fox joined in the Brextremist attacks on the CBI accusing them of tying one arm behind Britain's back by not supporting his fanatical interpretation of the Brexit vote.

This series of attacks on Britain's biggest business lobby from the Tories is absolutely extraordinary stuff from the party that once claimed to be the party of business, but what's more extraordinary still is that Theresa May has done nothing whatever to intervene.

Any Tory leader with a shred of authority would have stopped her senior ministers from publicly attacking one of the Tories' most influential allies, but Theresa May is far too weak and directionless to do anything at all.

May knows that her future as Prime Minister is entirely dependent on the 70 or so Tory MPs who are aligned with the secretive ERG Brextremism pressure group led by Jacob Rees-Mogg, and that any effort to discipline any of the Brextremists in her cabinet could be her final move as Prime Minister.

When given a choice between what's best for the nation, and what's best for her own career, Theresa May chose to embrace Brextremism and the DUP bigots rather than relinquish power. Then When it comes to a choice between what's best for her own party, and what's best for her own career, she's choosing to allow the Tory Brextremists in her cabinet to publicly attack the British business community, rather than take a stand and risk triggering the Brextremist revolt that would drive her out of 10 Downing Street.

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* = The CBI's relentless support for ruinous Tory austerity dogma and unprecedented wage repression policies made very little sense from a pragmatic perspective. All businesses rely on good public services and infrastructure, so it made very little sense for the CBI to support the Tory austerity strategy of deliberately underfunding public services and reducing Britain's level of investment in infrastructure to the lowest in the developed world. Additionally most businesses tend to thrive when consumers have money in their pockets (disposable income), so the Tory policy of imposing the longest sustained collapse in the real value of UK workers' wages always seemed like a very odd thing for Britain's biggest business lobby to be supporting.

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