On Friday, Mr Frost showed signs of being infected with coronavirus a day after his EU counterpart, Michel Barnier, tested positive for the disease. Number 10 confirmed Mr Frost is now self-isolating. Despite the coronavirus pandemic derailing face-to-face negotiations, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said Brexit talks with the EU will continue in the upcoming days.
Last week, the EU drafted a post-Brexit trade deal proposal, covering areas such as security, foreign policy and fisheries.
The 441-page draft legal text was sent to the 27 EU states, ahead of being presented to the UK this week.
However, according to political analysts, much of the draft will be outright rejected by the UK because of references to EU law and fishing.
As tensions are set to rise in the upcoming months, an unearthed report sheds some light on Mr Frost – the man who will ultimately shape Britain’s future outside the bloc.
In a 2019 column for the Daily Telegraph, Mr Frost, who at the time was the CEO of the London Chamber of Commerce, issued a stark warning to pro-Remain EU businesses.
He wrote: “It’s well known that business was mainly Remain in the 2016 referendum, and business organisations seem happy to keep making these concerns known.
“Yet public opinion seems increasingly sceptical of these pronunciamentos. Why?
“My personal conclusion is that business groups advocating a second referendum or revoking Article 50 are overstepping the mark.”
Businesses can and should have a view on the business conditions where they operate, Mr Frost said.
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However, they have no special expertise on constitutional matters, such as whether the country should be governed from within its borders or from overseas.
He added: “Everyone can have a view on such a question. In fact, nearly everyone did, and settled the issue in 2016.
“In my view, we as business organisations need to accept that reality.
“After all, we wouldn’t argue an election needed to be run again if we didn’t like the result.
“Trying to reverse a constitutional decision, and campaigning not just against a particular result but against the rules of the game, is surely for politicians, not the representatives of companies.”
The Brexit negotiator noted that of course business organisations have the right to take a view on the economic merits of particular Brexit options – even if this means now supporting policies they previously opposed.
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However, he wrote, the UK should still proceed with caution because a business position which amounts to “the closer aligned with the EU the better” makes business the voice of the status quo: the voice of those who think the years since the 2008 crash have been just fine, and that “we should just stick to that path”.
Mr Frost concluded: “Yet we know that is not many people’s experience and it is not what the numbers say either.
“Per capita growth in Britain has barely ticked above one per cent a year for a decade, half the rate of the supposedly stagnant Seventies.
“Productivity has collapsed and potential growth has fallen.
“Indeed at the moment we have many of the symptoms of a boom – record low unemployment, accelerating wage growth, asset price inflation – without the actual boom.
“This is not just fine. It is bad.
“Yet if we as business organisations give the impression we think it is fine, and that that’s just what modern capitalism is like, then we risk losing the argument to those who say ‘in that case, we don’t want capitalism, we want something else’.”
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