You may remember George Osborne and assorted Unionists warning that uncertainty drives away investors…looks like they were right. Another Cabinet minister, this time Vince Cable, is saying just that. Only it isn’t Scotland they’re worried about, it’s Britain.
Foreign investors are shunning the UK because of the looming danger of a No vote, not in our referendum but Cameron’s European referendum. They told us we were worrying the money men, now it turns out they’re doing it themselves, with the major difference that this time there are names to be added in…no more anonymous “business leaders are telling me” code for nobody in particular.
Companies including Ford and rival Nissan – which both have manufacturing operations in Britain – have publicly warned they would reconsider their future in the UK should it choose to leave the EU.
Even the CBI, firm Unionist adherents, say an exit from the EU would put Britain’s global future at risk. The director general, John Cridland, said continued EU membership was crucial for Britain’s global economic future. “A large majority of CBI businesses of all sizes are clear: the UK is best served inside a reformed EU, rather than outside with no influence. The single market is a great British success story and has been an engine for jobs and growth in every corner of the country and across the continent.”
Even the American and Japanese Embassies have let journalists know they have concerns, both representing major inward investment countries.
The Guardian quoted Neil Rami, chief executive of the inward investment agency Marketing Birmingham, saying foreign investors were telling him they were worried about the uncertainty.
“It is making them nervous and reticent. One of the reasons why businesses like Jaguar, Land Rover and Deutsche Bank have chosen to invest and grow in Birmingham is because it offers them quick and direct access to important European markets. By pledging a referendum and putting EU membership in the balance, we lose a major string to our bow and potential investors will look elsewhere.”
Where are all those reporters who brought us with relish news that nobody would invest in Scotland because of the referendum and companies would leave and why does a story aimed at damaging the independence side make a headline when harder evidence that the Union and it’s referendum, doesn’t?
This is what Vince Cable said when asked if investors were asking about the EU referendum: “The answer is yes. What I say as a government minister is that the risks of us leaving the EU are very, very low … and I just try to reassure foreign investors.”
This is now a point of pressure on Better Together – one leader of their own side, a member of Cabinet, makes clear that the Union under the Coalition is likely to lose foreign investment because of its approach to the EU making a Yes vote the best guarantee of staying in. And we’ve still to hear from Labour on what they will do about a referendum. There is in this another example of unraveling as words they thought would aid their case rebound and by implication cast doubt on everything else they are saying.
We are part of the world’s largest single market – an economic zone larger than that of the USA and Japan combined with a total GDP of around £11 trillion. It has 500 million people and enables free trade with 3.5 million jobs in Britain linked, directly or indirectly, to other Member States. No wonder they’re keen to scare us we might be thrown out but perhaps they should assess their own strategy first. A little fear on the No side might be healthy for them. (I wonder how many of those Better Together donors are also anti-EU?)