Business leaders in the North-East have launched a campaign to bring fundamental change to the UK’s relationship with the EU.
Business for Britain North-East believes politicians have handed the keys to our regional economy to EU officials, and businesspeople from Northumberland to Teesside warn EU regulation is making it harder for them to create jobs.
The Business for Britain regional council, which includes the likes of writer Matt Ridley, Ebac’s John Elliott and chairman Andrew Saunders, yesterday (Tuesday) launched a platform for businesses to engage in the debate in the EU referendum at Newton Aycliffe manufacturer Ebac.
“This is probably the only time we will get a say on this crucial issue in our lifetimes, that’s why I am happy to be involved in Business for Britain, North-East,” said Mr Elliott, pictured above (centre) with Matt Ridley and Andrew Saunders.
“The EU is a failed concept – it doesn’t work for businesses. If we vote to remain, we may be stuck inside this failing project forever and that will create real problems for businesses.
“If we vote to leave we can take back control over trade policy, allowing us to do more deals with growing economies like China and India. As an exporter I know that will help businesses in the North-East to grow, much more than being tied to the EU which is going nowhere fast.”
Mr Saunders added: “More business leaders in the North-East feel that the EU is hindering rather than helping them. EU rules are making it more difficult for us to expand and take on new staff.
“We’ve given away too much control over our economy to politicians in Brussels. I want to see powers come back so that we can make rules that are better suited to the needs of businesses in the North-East.
“I believe that North-East businesses could thrive outside the European Union – that’s why I will be voting to leave.”
Regional Business for Britain chairman, Alan Halsall, added: “As a businessman I know how important it is to keep a tight control over costs, but that doesn’t seem to be something that EU politicians understand.
“The EU’s accounts haven’t had a clean bill of health for 19 years running – that’s no way to run an organisation which takes £496m from the North-East every year.
“If we vote to leave in the EU referendum we will be able to spend that money on our priorities here in the UK rather than sending it abroad.”
New polling by YouGov of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) has found that North-East businesses surveyed want to see real changes to the UK’s relationship with the EU.
• More North-East SMEs think the EU is making it harder for their business to employ people – by 25% to 11%.
• More North-East smaller businesses think that EU regulation hinders rather than helps them – by 25% to 20%.
• More North-East smaller businesses want the UK to control negotiating trade deals rather than the EU – by 54% to 17%.
• 41% of SMEs questioned in the North-East believe that the UK can trade and cooperate with the EU without giving away permanent control over our economy
Since the UK joined the EU in 1975, the North-East has paid £12.5bn to the EU:
• Every year, the North-East sends £496m to the EU, this is six times the cost of the new Cramlington Specialist Emergency Care Hospital which opened in June 2015 (£75m).
• It is a quarter of the schools budget for the North-East (DSG 2015-2016: £1.bn).
• It is nearly ten times the highways’ maintenance budget in the North-East (£51.3m in 2015-2016).