In just seven days, we go to the ballot box in what is being described as the biggest single decision of our lifetime.
We’re asking the Teesside business leaders for their opinion on how we should vote in the EU referendum on Thursday June 23.
Here’s what some of them have got to say…
Darren Hankey, principal, Hartlepool College of Further Education
“I believe that staying in the EU is the best option. Firstly, the aim behind European countries uniting was to bring to an end to conflict – the EU is now a relatively harmonious place.
“Secondly, the benefits to the economy are greater with many leading economists and economic organisations highlighting the uncertainty relating to Brexit. This is good for the Tees Valley and North East economy, and ultimately good for the college as we work with many organisations who trade with the EU.
“Finally there’s the social aspect. Lots of laws relating to health & safety and equality emanate from Europe and these provide an effective framework for treating people in the workplace with dignity and respect.”
Mohammed Bashir, owner, Boro Taxis
“A vote out is a vote for an uncertain future. In the same way that you wouldn’t start a business without a business plan, we shouldn’t leave the EU without a definitive strategy in place stating how we would tackle the problems we would inevitably face.
“If we do leave, then the EU would have the upper hand in the round of negotiations that would follow, and who is to say that they would look kindly on a nation that has just given them the cold shoulder.”
Bill Abbott, managing director, HydroChem
“In my opinion, this day will be the most important single decision in our lifetime.
“There are £8bn reasons to go and be a successful independent nation with worldwide prospects. Let the British people look after themselves without the political elite who mainly have not worked in their lives or understand the real meaning of life retire and leave it to the people who can look after Great Britain.
“My concern is for small businesses that which have to pay the price of a higher national living wage.
“I vote leave.”
Daniel Smith, director, Erimus Productions
“Given the political analysis and financial projections from some of the most reliable institutions and political leaders in the world, a vote to remain should be the easy choice to make. Especially given the empty, nationalistic rhetoric espoused by those in the leave campaign, where the only promise is that ‘we don’t know what will happen’.
“My fear is that we’re slipping towards a vote to leave, the decisions are not based on reason and logic but on emotion and fear, fear of the great bogeyman of Europe and the new family in the street who don’t speak the lingo.
“The loser of the referendum will, ultimately, be the citizens of the UK. The entire campaign has been a farce from both sides, and the ideals of the General election last May seem to have disappeared to be replaced by very different ideas, all to suit the argument that the UK is some kind of stand alone economic powerhouse.
“It appears some would rather rule a failing country than serve a successful one.”
Heather O’Driscoll, managing director, Waltons Clark Whitehill Chartered Accountants
“History dictates that whatever the outcome, neither solution will prove totally positive, or totally negative. Some will benefit while others will find themselves suffering as a result. It could even be that things get worse before they get better. The truth is that nobody really knows with any certainty.
“Whatever the outcome on June 23, life will go on and business will continue, as accountants, we will always be on hand to advise on how any changes might affect our clients.”
Garry Lofthouse, director, Applied Integration
“I’m undecided. In my view both the Remain and Leave campaigns have been extensively poor, putting far too much spin on the truth, which is deceitful and misleading to the public.
“Referendum debates have seen claims that we pay Brussels anywhere between £50m and £350m, that somewhere between 10% and 60% of UK law is derived from our EU membership, and equally inconsistent claims over our sovereignty and immigration levels. These figures are so far apart that it is difficult to get a clear understanding of the facts.
“I do like the single market and 50% of UK trade goes to the EU. However, I’m concerned that this market is shrinking in proportion to world GDP. I believe the European debt crisis will widen to other countries, undoubtedly impacting the UK economy.
“I’m hoping both campaigns give true facts over the coming days so that I can make a correctly informed decision on June 23.”
We’ll bring more views on the EU debate from around the Tees Business community next week.