The Tory leadership election resembles a family dinner that starts off friendly enough but which will, inevitably, descend into a wine-soaked argument.
And that’s before we’ve even got into policy details. The front-runners are currently gung-ho about a no-deal Brexit but those that aren’t, notably Matt Hancock and Rory Stewart, are keen to talk up their pro-business positions.
Hancock yesterday said his party needed to “back business not bash business” while Stewart has talked about the importance of preserving market access and (a phrase beloved of politicians) unleashing entrepreneurship.
It would be nice if the race devoted sufficient time and space to business and economic policy, and in a bid to direct candidates’ focus on this vital area the CBI today helpfully publishes a letter (more of a desperate plea) to all the would-be PMs, calling on them to commit to “a new partnership with business” that builds a “post-Brexit Britain that is both prosperous and fair.”
They want a PM to “champion business.” A worthy aspiration. Pro-Brexit Tories have fallen out with the CBI, viewing it as part of the anti-Brexit blob that doesn’t respect the referendum result.
It must be said that the CBI hasn’t exactly helped itself. Their president, John Allan, has backed calls for a second referendum while the man being lined up to succeed him, Cobra beer founder Lord Bilimoria, describes Brexit as “a disaster” and is among the most enthusiastic and vocal advocates of calling the whole thing off.
Teeing him up to lead the CBI is, frankly, a provocative move. Why not take the opportunity to find a leader untarnished by the whole polarising debate?
As the CBI says in its letter today, business needs to work with the government to focus on the challenges of the future. Appointing a vociferous Remainer to lead the organisation doesn’t appear to be in keeping with the spirit of that proposition. I fear they’ve missed a trick here.
Banking on Switzerland
While the number of financial services staff being relocated from London remains small, the global elite always have an eye on where’s best to be based.
Five years ago, Deutsche Bank’s ranking of cities with the best quality of life placed Frankfurt at the top, but the most recent list sees the German city plummet to 13th place, with Zurich now riding high.
It looks like Frankfurt’s widely-mocked promotional video, aimed at London bankers, has failed to convince anyone.
Sad news for a great reporter
Thoughts are with the BBC’s technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones, who revealed yesterday that he’s been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
The BBC stalwart was responding to Twitter users who had noticed his hand shaking during a broadcast on the rollout out of 5G mobile technology.
He says “I’m getting good treatment and the symptoms are mild right now – so I’m carrying on as normal,” adding, “onwards and upwards.” We wish him all the best.
How do you like your wine?
They say the Brexit debate has crowded out important issues but at least one area has been getting the attention it deserves. Top bottle opener Will Lyons sparked a Twitter debate about the right temperature to serve rosé.
Having alluded in a column to a bottle served “piercingly cold,” online oenophiles piled in with arguments in favour of a modest chilling all the way through to serving over ice.
Lyons concluded matters with the reasonable observation that the right way to drink it is entirely down to the drinker. If that’s the how, what about the when?
My friend Harry Cole insists on a strict rosé season “from Good Friday to the first Saturday of the Labour party conference.” Another pal, financial PR Steffan Williams, tells me of a lunch last week celebrating the centenary of Bucks Club that served a 1919 Vouvray, an ’86 Margaux, an ’89 Chateau d’Yquem and a drop of ’63 port.
The lunch came to a civilised close at half past 10 that night. No rosé on ice for the Bucks clubbers.