Industry chief attacks Tory far-right `fringe'

John Redwood's Euroscepticmeeting in the Birmingham Repertory Theatre next door to conference was attacked as the "frenzied fringe" by Sir Bryan Nicholson, CBI president, in his opening speech.

Mr Redwood,whose meeting attracted just under 100, of whom several dozen appeared to be media, from among the 1,000 delegates, said: "You are all very brave to engage in a debate at a CBI conference. Welcome to this novelty." But after speeches from the panel, invitations for comments from the delegates, who had enjoyed a free packed lunch, were met with one question from a journalist and a resounding silence from the rest of the audience.

The panel, sitting on the set of Congreve's The Way of the World, a drama of intrigue and wit, may well have aired the dissident view on Europe. But despite its billing as widening the debate, there was a tremendous air of anti-climax about the whole event. The fringe was clearly in no frenzy.

During the morning the enemy from Brussels had been straining every muscle to woo British business and all the questions from the floor of the main debate were curiously supportive of the main CBI line.

Sir Leon Brittan, vice-president of the European Commission, had already ridiculed Mr Redwood's argument that to join a single currency would mean interest rates and lending policies being decided by unelected officials in Frankfurt. Sir Leon said that Britain would not become one of the provinces in a federal Europe, adding: "Nor is it that the gnomes of Frankfurt will fax the Budget straight to the Chancellor's office, still less that an unelected European president will send British troops marching into battle to the strains of Beethoven's Ninth".

Sir Leon made an urgent plea for Britain not to close its options on monetary union, and rejected the suggestion that the Government should declare that it would not enter monetary union within the lifetime of the next parliament. "It is seductive but literally incredible to say that we would not really be closing off any options. I can only say once again that our partners' determination to go ahead makes it extremely unsafe to assume that by the end of the next parliament, in 2002, EMU will still not be in existence".

Niall Fitzgerald, chairman of the CBI Europe Committee and vice-chairman of Unilever, said British business and its economic interests had been damaged by political divisions over Europe. "It is time for the UK government to demonstrate that it can be a critical but constructive force in the shaping of the EU," he told delegates.

Peter Rodgers

and Mary Fagan

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Inner sanctum: Tove Jansson and friends in her studio in 1992
booksWhat was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Arts and Entertainment
Singer songwriter Bob Dylan performs on stage
films
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years - but he says it wasn’t all fun and games
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman, Peter Capaldi and Nick Frost star in the Doctor Who Christmas Special, Last Christmas
TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Citifocus Ltd: Product Development - Asset Management

£Attractive: Citifocus Ltd: High calibre individual with significant product d...

Citifocus Ltd: Credit Ratings - Banking Sector

£Negotiable: Citifocus Ltd: Leading global bank seeks experienced credit analy...

Citifocus Ltd: Economic Crime Investigation & Analysis

£Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: High calibre individual with a high degree...

Citifocus Ltd: Snr Risk Analyst - Capital & Liquidity

£Attractive: Citifocus Ltd: High calibre individual with superior academics an...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital
In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran