Thames Valley businesses fear Brexit could lead to recession and exodus of employers
Thames Valley businesses are clearly in favour of remaining in the EU, fearing a Brexit could lead to recession and an exodus of employers from the UK.
That was the result of a poll among business leaders who discussed the ins and outs of the referendum debate at an event held by Oxford and Reading law firm Blake Morgan, in association with Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce.
The event’s 75 delegates listened to presentations from specialists in business, economics and law before taking part in a Q+A session.
A straw poll at the close of the discussions found that 83.3% of attendees were in favour of remaining in the EU, with just 16.7% believing that Brexit would leave Britain in a stronger position.
Just over half of businesses (51.4%) said their biggest fear about Britain leaving the union was that it would trigger an economic recession, while 34.5% feared it would lead to larger businesses relocating away from the UK, increasing unemployment. A significant proportion – 12.9% - said their biggest worry was a negative impact on import and export trade.
Other topics discussed included the impact on the voluntary sector of staying in or opting out of Europe, the impact of Brexit on companies which trade within the EU and the future ability of companies to bring skilled workers into the UK.
Bruce Potter, Chairman at Blake Morgan and a specialist commercial lawyer, said: “Businesses are clearly making up their minds on a potential Brexit based on the practical issues that affect them most – with international trade being a primary concern.
“It is obvious that more businesses fear the negative impact of Brexit on their operations than see the positives of going it alone. However, crucially, a significant proportion of those questioned have not yet made their choice.
“Both sides will need to provide more clarity if they are to have a hope of winning the hearts and minds of those who have yet to decide.”
The Thames Valley EU Referendum Debate was held at Green Park Conference Centre, Reading and attendees included representatives from across the Thames Valley.
The speakers were Mike Spicer, Director of Research and Economics at British Chambers of Commerce; Robert Devine, a business consultant and associate of Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce; David Bloxham, Managing Director of Thames Valley-based GCS Recruitment Specialists; Richard Bingley, Director of the Bucks Business School of Buckinghamshire New University; Professor Steven Mithen, Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Reading, and Bruce Potter, Chairman and senior partner, Blake Morgan.
As a result of the debate, Blake Morgan has produced a white paper, EU Referendum: Understanding what this means for your business. This is free to download, please click here.