Brexit: the big business debate

Brexit has dominated our TV screens, social media feeds, billboards, and newspapers ever since David Cameron announced the June 23rd referendum. And with the ‘In’ and ‘Out’ campaigns now in full swing, Brexit is an unavoidable topic. Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion, with different reasonings for either supporting or opposing Britain leaving the EU. For business owners, however, how the vote goes on the 23rd will be so important: it’s not just personal gain that is at stake, but also their business.

We wanted to get to the bottom of what Brexit would mean for small business owners, entrepreneurs, and professionals: how will it potentially affect their future business. So we got in touch with Britain Stronger In’s deputy director Lucy Thomas, and Vote Leave’s media monitoring analyst Oliver Norgrove, to gauge their view of how Brexit could affect business owners. Here’s what they had to say:


How do you see Brexit having an impact on the UK’s current political system?

Britain Stronger In: In the complex world of today, the UK has more control over its destiny by staying inside organisations like the EU. We would never dream of leaving the UN or NATO. Why would we leave the EU? If we want Britain to be a leader in the world we need to be in Europe, helping to make the big decisions. Britain is not Britain unless we are outward-looking, engaged in our continent and leading in Europe. Leaving the EU would risk diminishing our influence on the world stage, leaving us less able to influence global developments that risk harming our economy and compromising our safety.

Vote Leave: Leaving the European Union will restore the importance of general elections, as vying parties will have more powers at their disposal. Britain’s continued membership of the EU inflicts upon our political system a notable accountability void, which can be plugged by repatriating controls to those we elect to represent us.


As a whole, what will Brexit mean for economic growth?

Britain Stronger In: More than 3 million jobs in Britain are linked to our trade with other EU countries, and we receive an average of £24.1 billion a year in investment from Europe which supports businesses, communities, and research. All in all, being in Europe is worth £4,300 per year for every family according to the treasury, a return on investment of ten to one. Leave campaigners have already admitted that Britain is likely to face uncertainty and change if they leave the EU. Boris Johnson’s economic advisor has himself admitted that there would be an economic downturn after leaving. The IMF have recently warned of a vote to leave as a key risk in its latest World Economic Outlook, highlighting the negative impact that Britain leaving the European Union will have, not just for Britain but across the world.

Vote Leave: Brexit can bring economic growth to Britain in a multitude of different ways. By leaving and implementing a fairer immigration policy, we can hold back against wage compression and the demand for housing will be allowed to ease. Leaving the EU also gives Britain control over its own trade, meaning we are able to strike agreements with who we choose, not European commissioners.


For those importing and exporting, how do you see Brexit impacting on trade?

Britain Stronger In: As part of Europe, British businesses have free access to sell to 500 million consumers and as a result, there are nearly 200,000 UK businesses which trade goods with the EU. Independent experts have found that between 3 and 4 million jobs in Britain are linked to our trade with Europe. This is a huge amount of our business and something we should not take for granted. 44% of the UK’s exports are to European Union countries. This demonstrates just how important the EU is for our businesses.

Vote Leave: As things stand, trade is controlled by an unaccountable elite in Brussels. It should be the job of British ministers to preside over how the country trades, and with which countries. By leaving the EU, the UK can rediscover lost commercial relationships within the commonwealth and introduce our own system of tariffs against international dumping of goods.


After the IMF’s condemnation of Brexit, do you think Brexit will have a global impact? And if so in what way?

Britain Stronger In: The IMF have recently warned of a vote to leave as a key risk in its latest World Economic Outlook, highlighting the negative impact that Britain leaving the European Union will have, not just for Britain but across the world. Leaving the EU will likely result in a period of uncertainty. Britain’s position as a global centre will mean that other countries will likely feel the effect of this uncertainty.

Vote Leave: Britain’s departure from the European Union will have a tremendously positive global impact. The enslavement of democracy on the continent can be set free by a chain reaction of EU exits. Furthermore, leaving the EU gives the UK the chance to cooperate more extensively in other matters (perhaps military or environmental) with different countries, unbound by EU rules.


In terms of immigration, how do you think Brexit will affect employers and the UK’s workforce?  

Britain Stronger In: We want fairness in our immigration system, not a free for all. Over 100,000 EU citizens work for the NHS across health and social care services. One and a half million people are employed in businesses owned by EU citizens. And EU citizens have contributed £20 billion more in taxes than they have taken out in benefits. The facts are clear: the overwhelming majority of EU citizens in Britain are contributors. Leaving the EU could lose us this valuable work force, putting the NHS and other valuable services at risk.

Vote Leave: EU migration (both net and gross) is far too high. Brexit will give Britain the chance to implement a fairer, more ethical immigration policy which doesn’t discriminate against non-EU citizens, and allows us to control the numbers that come. The shrinking of wages and increase in demand for housing can both be alleviated by leaving after 23 June.


What will the future hold if Brexit is voted in?


Britain Stronger In: No one can clearly say what the future holds if we choose to leave the European Union. Leave campaigners have no plan for what our trading relationship would be if we left the EU, and Barack Obama has recently said that outside of the EU, Britain will be at the “back of the queue” when forming trade agreements with the United States. Walking away from Europe won’t give us more control, on the contrary, it will weaken our economy, compromise our safety, and diminish our influence in the world, rendering us less able to control our own destiny. Why would we risk it?

Vote Leave: If Brexit is voted in, Britain has a bright and prosperous future as an independent country. After taking back control, we will be better able to shape our own destiny, rekindle lost relationships with other countries, and allow our businesses and industry to be freed from EU-imposed regulation. Brexit will bring more accountability to the UK's political system and instigate a democratic revolution on the European continent.


So there you have it, answers from both sides of the debate. It is up to you to form your own opinion, and assess how Brexit might affect you and your business, and wait for the 23rd for the result! Made your mind up but still seeking some business guidance? Visit our blog for more information