EU Referendum – Your Views

News Posted 08/04/16
On 23 June 2016, Britain goes to the polls to decide if we should remain in the EU. The argument over whether to be in or out looks likely to rage on until the very last minute, but what will be the best option for business? Should we keep the faith or make a swift Brexit? Business people from across the South East offer their opinions

DON’T OVERLOOK IMPACT ON BUSINESS

With immigration grabbing the headlines, the potential impact on UK businesses has almost been forgotten.

If Britain votes to leave the EU, it will have to negotiate a new trading relationship with what would now be a 27-member organisation, to allow British firms to sell goods and services to EU countries without being hit by excessive tariffs and other restrictions. The EU is the UK’s main trading partner, worth more than £400 billion a year, or approximately 52% of the total trade in goods and services. Complete withdrawal from the EU would see trade barriers erected, with car exports to the EU, for example, facing a 15% tariff and imports a tariff of 10%.

If Britain went for a completely clean break from the EU, its exports would be subject to these tariffs yet they would still have to meet EU production standards, harming the competitiveness of British business. The end result could be a trade war between Britain and the EU, which could cripple Britain’s export industries.

Emma Andrews FCA, partner, McCabe Ford Williams, Maidstone, Kent

NO SENSE IN WALKING AWAY

The message from our members [according to a ComRes survey] is resounding – most want the UK to stay in the EU because it is better for their business, jobs and prosperity. Walking away makes little economic sense and risks throwing away the many benefits we gain from being part of the EU.

Our members tell us that having guaranteed access to a tariff-free market of 500 million people, and to more than 30 global trade deals covering 50 countries, are significant advantages that outweigh the frustrations. A minority of members want to leave the EU. We will continue to respect and reflect their views and campaign for EU reform to get a better deal for all businesses.

However, most CBI members are unconvinced that alternatives to full membership would offer the same opportunities. We have yet to see those who seek to leave the EU present a compelling vision of what this would mean for jobs and growth. We will not align ourselves with any campaign. Though prosperity, jobs and future living standards matter to many people, we recognise there will be other considerations. It is not our place to tell people how to vote, but the CBI will play its role in making the economic case for remaining in the EU.

Malcolm Hyde, director, CBI South East

GROWING SUPPORT FOR BREXIT

The 2016 Growth Climate Index, published by BGF Growth Capital Investors, shows that 63% of business leaders in London and the South East believe British businesses are better off inside the EU – down from 82% last year.

The Growth Climate Index seeks the views of senior business leaders who are committed to supporting Britain’s most ambitious small and mid-sized businesses. While the poll shows an uptick in support for Brexit in the London and South East business community, the majority remain in favour of staying in the EU.

It’s also clear that despite uncertainty prompted by the vote, and economic instability overseas, businesses remain committed to growth. In uncertain times it is crucial that businesses get the support they need to innovate, export, grow and prosper.

Marion Bernard, regional director for London & South East, BGF

LEARN LESSONS FROM CANADA

The single market is extremely important for Siemens UK. Should Brexit occur, that creates the necessity to negotiate and being Canadian, I know it took seven years for Canada to negotiate their EU trade agreement.

Investment wouldn’t cease, but it would take time for stability to return and for the UK to be an attractive place to invest.

Maria Ferraro, chief financial officer, Siemens Plc, Camberley, Surrey

REFORM BETTER THAN EXIT

Technetix Group exports 80% of its sales revenue – a large proportion going to EU countries. My belief is that membership of a reformed EU is much better for us than a UK exit, which would lead to disruption of the business environment likely to last many years.

If the UK was to leave the EU, Technetix could move headquarters to the Netherlands if needed, where we already have a major operation. This will be okay for us but it won’t be good for UK Plc.

Paul Broadhurst, chief executive officer, Technetix, Albourne, West Sussex


CAN’T MAKE UP YOUR MIND?

Many businesses seem to be leaning towards staying in the EU, but how will you vote?

The Sevenoaks Chamber of Commerce and Sevenoaks School, Kent, are hosting a debate on the EU referendum at 7pm on Thursday 28 April.

Panellists will include Daniel Hannan, MEP for the South East of England and Cllr Peter Fleming OBE, leader of Sevenoaks District Council. The debate will be chaired by Paul Andrews, CEO of Jobs in Kent. Tickets are free but must be booked – email boxoffice@sevenoaksschool.org

Law firm Furley Page and Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce are holding workshops about the possible implications of Brexit for UK employment law. The events take place at Mercure Maidstone Great Danes Hotel, covering employment law update (21 April), investigating discipline and grievances (5 May) and managing sickness absence (19 May). Tickets cost £80 for chamber members and £90 for non-members.

To book call 01233 503838 or email events@kentinvictachamber.co.uk

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