I listen in despair to Brexiteers’ dismissals of pleas from business for a settlement that allows them to plan beyond March next year. On last Friday’s Any Questions?, Jürgen Maier — who runs the £5 billion manufacturing business that is German-owned Siemens UK, and who may be the most respected industrialist in the north of England — spoke persuasively (in the accent of his Leeds schooldays) about the ‘dramatic’ fall-off of business investment and potentially ‘catastrophic’ impact of a no-deal outcome. The response of Tory MP John Redwood was so condescending, essentially ‘well done for coming here and building a business but stop scaremongering’, that I wanted to pour a boiling kettle over the radio.
But the people I really feel sorry for at this juncture are our fishermen, one of the few groups whose livelihoods have unequivocally been damaged by EU membership. Redwood also spoke casually of ‘taking control of our fish’, but I suspect we never will. The FT reports that ‘about eight’ EU countries whose fishermen rely on access to British waters are still demanding post-Brexit quota-sharing guarantees. How easy that will be to trade away for other face-saving concessions as this botched negotiation stumbles to a close.