As a business man that worries me. I understand Britain’s presence in Europe has become an issue worthy of national debate, in which citizens will be given the opportunity to make up their own minds, but it is deeply troubling that we are already seeing manoeuvring and political spin.At my advanced age, experience tells me that this could lead to nasty “side-effects” for the British economy due to the uncertainty generated among businesses which will hamper investment and undermine long-term planning. Our elected representatives are often accused of not understanding the world outside the “Westminster village” and regrettably once again we see the different factions already releasing statements that frankly leave questions unanswered – or worse still open to significant interpretation. On behalf of business, particularly small and medium sized ones, I would like to say that it is critical the government moves quickly to set out the agenda and give the industry as many reassurances as possible. While the result is unknown it will be important for businesses to hear what the government is planning for all eventualities. If we were to leave the EU, what planning has been done to map out the consequences of such a scenario? For example, speaking to my peers there are fears about borrowing in the immediate to support future growth strategies. We are seeing signs of project deferment of planned and costed work, which had been allocated since the green shoots of recovery were apparent. Does the government have a plan to ensure businesses will not be subject to volatile borrowing rates should the UK leave the EU? I understand that the Bank of England is devising contingency plans and strategies in the event of a leave vote. It is, in my opinion, essential that before the referendum the government produces a detailed plan which spells out the pros and cons of the impending result and the subsequent actions that are essential in either decision. It must also declare the effect on our world status should we leave and how the reparations to the damage of our existing trading agreements will be handled. I recognise that complex negotiations lie ahead and in all probability the outcome will not be as simple as “are we in or out of the European club”.
Read more on the EU referendum:
- Continental business leaders want UK in Europe even more than British counterparts
- In or out? The VAT cost of a Brexit
- UK plc: Clueless within Europe, rudderless without
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