EU Referendum – How will the nation vote?
On 23 June, we will all have a referendum vote on whether the UK stays in or leaves the European Union. Gordon Glenister examines the options for Britain.
At the time of writing this article, a YouGov poll of voting intentions on the EU referendum showed that 40% wanted to remain in the EU, 37% wanted to leave, and 23% didn’t know or wouldn’t vote. With the vote so finely balanced, Product Media has looked at the arguments on either side of the debate, to help provide some clarity.
There has been and continues to be scaremongering by the media and politicians, and from many I speak to, the views are very split, so I don’t for a moment suggest the decision is easy – it’s more about which is less risky. If we do leave, there will be a two-year time period to extract ourselves, and negotiate new trade deals. One concern of course is that there will be uncertainty in our economy which is not good for trade and investment. So, what are the arguments on either side?
- There are approximately three million jobs linked to EU trade and £66m worth of investment every day, according to * Full Fact.
- It’s the world’s largest single market with more than 50% of British exports going to EU members. Being in allows us to influence and streamline our trading processes.
- Britain may lose some of the negotiating power that the EU has with world powers if its leaves.
- Freedom of movement of people – 1.4 million Brits live in the EU with driving licences valid in all EU countries. Positive migration has allowed us to fill many jobs in areas like construction, hospitality, healthcare.
- The European Arrest warrant, allows criminals to be brought to justice across the EU.
- The EU plays a leading role in world trade, climate change, and development projects.
- If we were to leave, there would be increased trading tariffs, which may affect profitability and hurt those organisations heavily dependent on EU trade.
- Companies that have benefited from grants and support, would no longer receive such support.
- Goods pass through border controls much faster.
- Sovereignty comes back to the UK, giving us power to make our own laws. More than 50%of laws are made in Brussels currently, including the contentious 849 REACH rules which affect garments.
- Those in favour of leaving, believe that investment to the UK – currently the highest in Europe – would remain.
- Better protection at borders –it’s impossible to totally control our borders whilst in the EU.
- The EU commission is undemocratic and unelected.
- Huge savings of £55m per day inward funding that could be used to build a stronger economy. Last year the UK contributed £13bn, but received £4.5bn back in spending, creating a net cost of £8.5bn.
- Other European countries not in the EU, such as Norway, have done well. We would not be hampered by many restrictions currently in place.
- Ever closer control – a ‘United States of Europe’ with Germany dominating.
- Working hours directive will add extra costs to business.
- Security – we will still be able to work with other nations on this and still be a member of G7/G20 and Nato.
What do the bpma Members Think?
“I will probably vote to stay in the EU. I seriously doubt that we will leave the EU. Unless the out campaign can ﬁnd a simple and clear argument that makes the majority of people feel that their lives will be improved by leaving. At the moment the arguments are impenetrable and have no bearing on the majority of individuals. In the end, I think that the population will have to make a judgement call which will go something like this: Leave – Change for potential beneﬁts that are not clearly understood or guaranteed and risk that is poorly deﬁned. Stay – Don’t change, things kind of work don’t they? Don’t vote – I can’t be bothered. Or. It won’t make any difference. Or. I don’t really understand.” Lee Woodcock, Foremost
“My view is that the EU is an outdated overly bureaucratic organisation no longer ﬁt for purpose. The movement of the entire parliament from Brussels to Strasbourg and back again is a complete nonsense. The inability to sign off accounts year after year is a disgrace. Euro MPs expenses make our own expenses scandal seem rather tame. The recent tragic events in Belgium and France prove that the EEC provides no further safety in security than our own security services. Most intelligence emanates from the US not Europe.” Richard Pettinger, Ignite
“Those that think by coming out of Europe we’ll avoid all their rules are way off the mark. As an example, we could end up with UK made product safety laws differing from EU ones, so those selling into Europe would then have to conform with two differing standards. The EU is the largest trading area for 90% of exporters in our industry and at the very least we’d still be making our products to their standards in order to continue trading. Having control over our own laws and regulations in this respect will only beneﬁt the smaller UK-centric suppliers. Everyone else will be working to new UK laws and EU ones over which we will have no inﬂuence.” Evan Lewis, MD, Everything Environmental
“On the EU, opinions are split. The general consensus is that leaving the EU would leave us with a lot of unanswered questions and the country entering the unknown. However, there is a feeling of discontent about the way the EU is run and how much the UK spends compared to what it gets back. I think these feelings mirror most of the population!” Briman group, representing British Manufacturing
“There is power in a union, is all I will say.” Roger Beechﬁeld
“In the long term we need to realise that the UK as a market is far more valuable to Europe, especially trade with Germany and France, than they are to us. Think Audi, BMW, Citroen, Mercedes, Renault, VW, and so on. It is vital that a mutually beneﬁcial trading relationship be established ﬁrstly with the main players, France and Germany, then the others can follow.” Anonymous
“Personally I think it will be like the Scottish vote and we will all ‘bottle it’ at the polls – traditionally we vote to keep things the same. In reality there are no trade barriers anymore so I’m not worried about that aspect. Having said that, we have been members for so long I just don’t see the point of coming out – it will take years to unwind from all the deals leading to untold red tape and costs. As for the £12bn we pay every year, do you really think we will see any of that? Not a chance! the government will just use it in other areas and we will not feel any effect.” Anonymous
“I am constantly annoyed by speculative claims aimed purely at frightening people, such as EasyJet saying cheap ﬂights will end – what complete and utter rubbish! Cheap ﬂights have opened up local economies superbly, why would anyone want to stop them? As for inward investment, it’s better to back an economy that is moving forward than one that has remained painfully static.” Anonymous
“The main question is how will trade tariffs affect us all and if we do withdraw the pound will no doubt suffer a short term dip, as is now happening with the uncertainty. It is the currency traders who beneﬁt here. All suppliers importing from the Far East using the dollar will be in a very difﬁcult situation, especially when required to plan ahead. I think we must all be prepared for severe volatility on pricing in the intervening period leading up to the vote and for a couple of years afterwards if we vote to come out.” Anonymous
“My heart says leave but I actually don’t know yet. Several potential models based on other country’s ‘deals’ for us after leaving are worse than staying in so I’m on the fence on this until hopefully there is more clarity.” Anonymous
“The EU delivers far more restrictions than beneﬁts, both legislative and ﬁnancial.” Anonymous
“If we have the courage I believe the UK could ﬂy in the world market, not just in the rather old fashioned and parochial EU.” Anonymous
“When it comes to the vote, inertia will be the deciding factor.” Anonymous