SMEs: Britain should withdraw from the EU

British businesses think the UK ought to withdraw from the European Union as the continent teeters on the brink of economic crisis.

Two-thirds (67 per cent) of the 296 businesses which responded to a poll on favour complete withdrawal from the EU, with 31 per cent against and 2 per cent undecided.

However, quitting the 27 member-state union does not seem likely in the near future after David Cameron was backed by parliament in his call to reject a referendum. The prime minister said it was the ‘wrong time’ to leave the EU and defended membership as being in the British interest, adding that the UK conducts 50 per cent of its exports with member states.

Many business leaders are not convinced. Jonathan Straight, chief executive of recycling products business Straight, says, ‘The single market is a good idea, but could be covered with free trade agreements.’

Ben Habib, CEO of First Property Group agrees, pointing out, ‘We are not part of the North American Free Trade Agreement or the South East Asian trade bloc but we still trade well with those regions.’

However, Robin Chater, secretary general of the Federation of European Employers, says that EU withdrawal would be catastrophic for Britain, accusing business leaders of a ‘serious lack of vision’ and a ‘hotel bar attitude’.

Chater adds, ‘We would be marooned if we left the EU. Americans and other nations are attracted to us because we are part of the EU. They would go elsewhere, to places like Brussels and Berlin and Warsaw.’

Adrian Maxwell, managing director at Fracino, which manufacturers cappuccino and espresso machines, says his business has not been affected by the Euro crisis. He says, ‘The pound is weak at the moment making UK manufacturing very competitive. We have the skills, but being in the EU enables us to trade with Europe easily with virtually no red tape or documentation. Therefore, I feel, for the time being, Britain should stay in the EU.’

Alan Dobie

Alan Dobie

Alan was assistant editor at Vitesse Media Plc (previous owner of before moving on to a content producer role at Reed Business Information. He has over 17 years of experience in the...

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EU - European Union