I am proud of EEF’s member companies. Not because six in ten want to remain in the EU or because 5% support a ‘Brexit’, but because of how they have formed this collective view.
In a time of heated debate, where disinformation, misinformation and misperception appear to be rife, our member companies have coolly and calmly weighed up the pros and cons of EU membership and taken a pragmatic view. There are no rose tinted spectacles here – our members are fully aware of both the advantages and the disadvantages and, on balance, have decided that the UK’s interests are best-served by remaining in the EU.
Our members have a strong interest in exporting and this comes through clearly in our research findings. Just one in ten does not export or is not interested in exporting to our neighbours in the EU. Perhaps unsurprisingly they identify the top business advantage of EU membership as the fact that it makes it easier for UK companies to start exporting (81%).
Over eight in ten of our members (82%) say that it doesn’t make sense for the UK to cut itself off from its major market. There is also little acceptance (22%) of the idea that the UK faces a choice between exporting to the EU and exporting globally – a concept bandied around by the vote leave camp, but which seems to hold little water for seasoned exporters.
There is also broad recognition that trade deals today are negotiated between blocs rather than individual trading nations.
At our National Manufacturing Conference these views will be up for debate. In the interests of balance, and to build further understanding of the issues at stake here, we have invited speakers from both the ‘In’ and ‘Out’ camps to make their case.
This is important. As we head towards making what could be the biggest collective decision in our lifetime, we want our members to continue to be engaged and informed.
Taking a balanced and pragmatic view is the right way forward – and will undoubtedly make a refreshing change in what is already turning into a fevered and unreasonable debate.