We are constantly told by the EU-funded CBI that business wants Britain to remain in the EU. In fact, many big British companies – facing crippling EU regulation and tariffs – are increasingly iffy about it.
I visited one such company – Tate & Lyle - earlier this week. T&L's refinery has been processing cane sugar since 1878. It is one of the largest industrial employers left in London. The company has survived depression, world wars to become the largest cane refiners in Europe. Yet now the EU threatens to shut T&L down.
Why? Because nineteen EU member states produce beet sugar. So the EU openly rigs the sugar market against cane.
Since 2009, the EU has restricted cane refiners to importingraw sugar cane from 5% of the world market. EU import duties for sugar cane from the other 95% are staggering: €339 per tonne. Even within the accessible 5%, duties and quotas still apply.
Unlike cane, the EU is progressively deregulating beet sugar. From October 2017, there will be no quotas or levies on sugar beet production – with prices set to fall by 15%. But beet producers – used to receiving guaranteed prices under the quota – will be subsidised to counteract any price drop. Cane refiners, meanwhile, will be driven out of business.
The conspiracy against sugar cane is discrimination not just against T&L but against the UK. The single market that the Peter Mandelsons tell us is essential for Britain to wield influence as a trading power is, in fact, systematically undermining British trade and British businesses on the whims of bureaucrats and lobbyists. This isn't a free market, it's protectionism.
Brussels masquerades as seat of high minded internationalism. In reality it's home of grubby, dishonest corporate fixes. Markets and the rules that govern them are systematically rigged. To help rig them are an army of lobbyists, which is why lobbying is one of Europe's few growth industries.
The EU's cane tariffs have already cut jobs and production for T&L. Since 2009, T&L's annual sugar output has fallen from 1.1 million tonnes to 600,000. It could well be unable to survive after 2017.
Curiously, 2017 is also likely to be the year of the EU referendum. The corporatist cartel will keep telling us that business wants to stay in. The truth is that the only way to save businesses like Tate & Lyle is to vote Leave.
"A revolutionary text ... right up there with the Communist manifesto" - Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times
Printed by Douglas Carswell of 61 Station Road, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex