In or out - Sheffield City Business Region hosts EU referendum event

12th April 2016

More than 100 guests from across the Sheffield City Business Region gathered to hear 'for' and 'against' the EU arguments, and their likely impact on the local and national economy, ahead of the referendum vote.

'The Quarterly Economic Survey Breakfast: The EU Referendum and What it Means for Business' event heard from former finance lawyer Ian Baxter, wealth intelligence expert Alex Story and economist Bill Robinson in a line-up designed to give businesses a greater understanding before they vote. At the event, organised by the City Region Chambers, with the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Sheffield University Management School, Ian Baxter, Chairman of Baxter Freight, argued for the 'remain' side, describing staying in the free market as a 'no-brainer'. He told the audience of business leaders: -With my eyes wide open to all its failings and weaknesses, I believe it is in our national interest for a confident and optimistic Britain to remain in the EU. -First and foremost I am an entrepreneur who has built two businesses and I want us to have access to the largest single market of 500 million people. -If we bring back customs clearance procedures and the subsequent costs it's just inevitable that it will hit demand and make it more difficult for smaller businesses in particular. He added: -It would be a backwards step to bring back barriers to trade. Arguing to leave, Alex Story, Head of European Business Development for Wealth-X, said: -The danger of the EU is in its DNA it is trying to integrate many countries into one single entity. -As business people you all know about mergers and acquisitions the failure rate is 80 per cent. It's very difficult to get a merger to generate value. But when it comes to trying to get 28 countries to integrate, some of which are structurally very different, it's much more complex because there's also many histories, languages and religions. He added: -Being anti-EU is actually being pro-Europe because we understand it's our diversities that make us strong and gives us dynamism. Bill Robinson, Head of Economics at the Economics and Regulation practice at KPMG, gave an overview of how 'Brexit' might affect the economy of the UK and Sheffield City Business Region. He pointed to possible effects including on the freedom of businesses to hire the best talent, as well as on capital telling the audience direct investment had already been impacted by uncertainty over the vote. Also at the flagship event, which was sponsored by and held at The Edge Lecture Theatre, Jillian Thomas, President of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce revealed the results from the latest Quarterly Economic Survey (QES), sponsored by RBS South Yorkshire & North Derbyshire, and what they mean locally for business. The British Chambers of Commerce QES is the largest and most representative independent business survey of its kind in the UK and questions firms on a wide range of issues including skills, employment, and international trade.

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