Wealden Business Group debated the forthcoming European Union referendum at its weekly networking breakfast on Wednesday, 16th March.
The straw poll taken at the meeting showed nine members in favour of leaving the EU, eight in favour of staying, and three undecided – a stark change from the survey conducted among members last June, when 80 percent voted for continued membership.
Those arguing for exit said that…..
- Prime Minister David Cameron’s negotiations had not achieved significant changes to the UK’s relationship with the EU, particularly in terms of the primacy of the British Parliament over European legislation.
- Business outside of the EU is unlikely to be adversely affected, as Europe exports more to the UK than the other way round.
- European legislation had damaged Britain’s industry, particularly in car manufacture
- The expansion of the EU to 28 members meant it was impossible for ‘one size fits all’ economic policies to work.
- The original economic union had changed to a political union – not what the UK had signed up for.
Those arguing for remaining in the EU said that….
- It was important for the UK to have a ‘voice’ in Europe
- Russian expansionist policies could only be effectively countered by a strong EU, with Britain as a member.
- EU migrants were essential to keep some agricultural businesses afloat, such as fruit picking.
- It was vital to avoid petty nationalism, and perhaps be the catalyst for the collapse of the EU.
- There were too many uncertainties to be clear about what life would be like outside of the EU.
All members agreed that people required more, unbiased information before making their choice at the referendum on 23rd June.