While the appointment of arch-federalist Jean-Claude Juncker to the presidency of the European Union was undoubtedly something of a slap in the face to the UK prime minister, the CBI has moved swiftly to caution against the prospect of a UK exit from the EU.
Pundits have been speculating that Mr Juncker’s appointment as the next resident will hasten Britain’s egress from the EU ‒ a possibility that CBI director-general John Cridland considers potentially calamitous. In an interview with the Observer, Mr Cridland said: “The EU is our biggest export market and remains fundamental to our economic future. Our membership supports jobs, drives growth and boosts our international competitiveness.”
Strongly dismissing claims by some Conservatives that the UK could remain equally competitive outside the EU under some kind of associate member status, Mr Cridland continued: “Alternatives to full membership of the EU simply wouldn’t work, leaving us beholden to its rules without being able to influence them. We will continue to press the case for the UK remaining in a reformed European Union.”
The upcoming political gymnastics may be ultra-challenging for Mr Cameron; however, many highly-skilled Umbrella Company Employees and other freelancers in the UK’s vibrant professional contracting community will agree with the CBI stance. An exit from the EU seems worryingly likely to lead to increased economic isolation, not competitive advantage, and many jobs and contracts could be jeopardised by a referendum result mandating early exit from the EU.
Britain’s political leadership across all parties, it would seem, has an especially difficult path to tread in the run-up to the forthcoming general election.