THE BLOG

Critics of the British Option Seem More Concerned With Appeasing Brussels Than Helping Our Small Businesses

17/01/2014 11:45 GMT | Updated 19/03/2014 09:59 GMT

Business for Britain is not a typical campaign group. Our senior team and supporters are proven and successful business people, and our aims and objectives have been informed almost entirely by consulting and surveying business leaders. Therefore, when we propose an idea, it hasn't been plucked out of the air for political expediency - it is based on the feedback we've received from people who are at the head of companies and really know what life is like starting and running a business.

Our proposal launched this week - the British Option - is the first suggestion that we have put forward as to how the Government might wish to renegotiate Britain's EU membership.

Put very simply, SMEs that aren't trading in the Single Market are still finding their lives being made harder by EU regulation, so why not exempt them from the most burdensome rules?

It isn't a revolutionary idea - in fact the Government's own Business Taskforce recommend exempting micro businesses in this manner, and no-one would expect a UK company that doesn't export to China to abide by Chinese regulations. Crucially, Britain would remain in the Single Market and EU-exporting firms would still enjoy full access to Europe, the only change is that life would be made a little easier for the small and medium-sized companies that don't export to Europe and on which Britain's economy relies.

Yet, despite being informed by the feedback we have received from the British business community, and being shown to fit squarely within existing official recommendations, the British Option has come in for some criticism from people, many of whom count the EU as a current or future source of employment.

This begs the question - do they understand the scale of the problem? Have they actually spoken to SMEs in Britain about what life is like living under onerous EU rules? Or perhaps, are they more concerned with attacking anything that amounts to criticism of Brussels for fear that it might hasten 'Brexit'?

I can't speak for the former, but it is Business for Britain's belief - and that of the Chancellor if you read his speech earlier this week - that by not renegotiating a new and better deal with the EU we make a 'no' vote much more likely. In fact, by being so quick to condemn eminently reasonable proposals like the British Option, the critics are acting like the unaccountable and opaque Eurocrats in Brussels that have spent decades resisting calls to make Europe more competitive for fear of undermining their goal of a United States of Europe.

Business for Britain doesn't want to leave the EU, but we do want some simple and achievable changes made that would help businesses to compete in the new high-growth areas of the world like South America and South-East Asia. The British Option would do that, and without undermining the Single Market.

So, what do our critics want? More Europe or more fairness for small businesses? It's time to be honest with Britain's business community.