was the London Chairman of Business for Britain, and he imagines two people, called John and Carolyn, who happen to run the CBI, having this conversation.
“Carolyn, when you tell the PM that she can’t go for No Deal, say that you fear that it will hit small businesses hardest. She will have to listen then”.
“But John, the CBI doesn’t have many small businesses as members, not any that I know about anyway, so how can we say that small businesses will be affected?”
“Carolyn, don’t let little details like that get in the way of a good bit of PR. I know all about small businesses after all, many of the suppliers at the supermarket I run in my other job are small. If we tell a small porky about the concerns of small businesses, it will deflect attention away from our real concerns, which is the need to protect our members’ interests, and they want us to stay in the EU to prevent the rise of those pesky disruptor competitors.”
“You mean we actually want EU regulation?
Isn’t that crony capitalism?”
“Yes, of course we like regulation, the more the better. Our members have the resources, the time, the money and the compliance officers, whereas any smaller competitor companies will be smothered by the mass of paperwork.”
“But we’re the voice of business, aren’t we? Surely that means all businesses.”
“Er, no. For starters, we dropped that slogan after those two whipper-snappers said we were the voice of Brussels. And we don’t actually represent that many businesses in the grand scheme of things.”
“Actually, don’t worry, I’m seeing the PM later today, as part of my Brexit advisory role at No. 10.”
“How on earth did you get that job?
I thought you told me there was nothing good that could come from Brexit?!”
“I know, it’s hilarious. Still Mark has done a good job, hasn’t he? 10% rise in food prices! She can’t go for No Deal after that bit of scaremongering, oh…I mean that bit of excellent considered analysis.”
“10% rise? But didn’t the British Retail Consortium tell us privately that food bills would actually go down, with things like cheaper veg?”
“Luckily, the BRC are not saying that publicly yet. And who needs to look at the detail of the No Deal tariffs when it’s so much easier just to tell Mark to include a nice round number like 10% in his report. Meat prices will definitely be higher.”
“Yes, but only by a few pence.”
“The great thing is that there will be massive reductions on all that wine we import.
Hopefully the population will be too sozzled to notice the price cuts.”
“I’ll drink to that, John. And I think you’ve done a great job giving her the line that it’s Brexiteers that should be blamed for stopping Brexit, when we all know the choice we face now is between Mrs May and Brexit.”
“Thank you. The great thing is that the voters’ memories are so poor that they forget that nearly everyone voted for the two things that make Brexit legal, Article 50 and the Withdrawal Act. A bit of conjuring and the PM has been able to blame Brexiteers for everything, by not backing the indicative votes, when we all know the PM didn’t have to take a blind bit of notice of those votes. If we keep her in power for a bit longer, she’ll probably go the whole way and revoke Article 50. We can blame the Brexiteers for that as well. Mind you, our friend Corbyn has helped us.”
“Maybe we need to take a crate of that cheap booze to Corbyn?”
“Yes, let’s Carolyn. Unlike our united view on staying in the EU, our members are divided on Corbyn, with many being firm Corbyn fans.”
“John, I know. Our next trick will be to make the PM love Corbyn.”
“She’s ahead of you there. She already does!”