Business Secretary Greg Clark accused of ‘communicating panic’

Business Secretary Greg Clark is accused of ‘communicating a sense of panic’ as he urged big firms to keep speaking out against plans for a clean break with the EU

  • Business Secretary Greg Clark was accused of ‘communicating a sense of panic’
  • The cabinet minister asked business bosses to speak out publicly against a hard Brexit to convince the Government to opt for a softer break with the EU bloc 
  • Colleagues have slammed the minister in yet another very public cabinet row

Business Secretary Greg Clark has annoyed his cabinet colleagues over Brexit 

Business Secretary Greg Clark was accused of ‘communicating a sense of panic’ last night as he urged big business to keep speaking out against plans for a clean break with the EU.

In a revealing intervention, Mr Clark said big business could help him win the argument in Cabinet to soften the Government’s approach to Brexit.

But David Jones, a former Brexit minister, told The Daily Telegraph: ‘Cabinet ministers should be informing business of what the Government is doing to ensure we get a good deal.

‘This is ridiculous. You don’t take your lead from businesses, you set the policy and then inform the debate. 

‘What he is doing is communicating a sense of panic, rather than a sense of reassurance. There is a risk he is unwittingly participating in Project Fear Mark II, which is being orchestrated by EU-based businesses.’

Recent blood-curdling Brexit warnings from foreign-based corporations such as Airbus and, temporarily, BMW have enraged some Cabinet ministers.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said it was ‘completely inappropriate’ for Airbus to threaten to leave the UK in the event of a no deal Brexit – and said similar warnings were undermining Theresa May’s efforts to strike a good trade deal with Brussels.

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Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was blunter, reportedly responding to business concerns with: ‘F*** business.’

Speaking at a conference for chief executives in London yesterday, Mr Clark said: ‘The voice of business… must continue to be heard (in the Brexit debate). The business voice is absolutely foundational to a successful and effective negotiation.’

The Business Secretary acknowledged that the Cabinet’s public rows about Brexit were damaging, saying: ‘What business doesn’t want is a running debate between different members of the same government.

‘Businesses look with dismay when there’s disagreement, it does not inspire confidence.’

Boris Johnson has clearly taken exception to the business community’s demands for a softer break from the European Union

But he said it was vital that firms continued to provide ‘evidence’ to back his case for a softer Brexit ahead of a crunch meeting of the Cabinet at Chequers next week. 

‘Evidence and facts are what will determine the outcome at every stage,’ he said.

‘When things have been up for debate and discussion it’s been the evidence that has prevailed. The business voice puts evidence first before ideology. It brings actual experience of trading. Not a theoretical view of what the world will be like.

‘Not a speculation on how they might operate.

‘The experience of employing millions of men and women and helping them earn a good living, not a theoretical exercise in which you take decisions about the lives of people in imagined circumstances in imagined worlds.’ 

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