David Cameron has secured a deal with the EU and announced that Britain will go to the polls and decide our future in Europe on 23 June. What do small business owners think? We asked some and this is what they told us.
"We agree with Boris Johnson that David Cameron did his best but the deal agreed in Brussels will not deliver fundamental reform of the EU. We will be campaigning to leave. I
t costs the UK £10,400m each year to be a member (that's £6,240 per person who lives in UK). We believe this money would be better used to help support and grow UK businesses and stimulate the UK economy to create jobs.
By leaving the EU we can lower taxes for UK based businesses, invest in UK businesses technologies more teachers and the NHS. The UK will become a worldwide enterprise hub, with low taxes, innovative businesses and high value job opportunities."
Neil Westwood, managing director, Magic Whiteboard
@e_nation Leave - as in the future - our financial contribution will grow and our benefits will reduce.— Stuart McFarlane (@stumac1066) February 24, 2016
"Cameron's 'victory' in Brussels has left the fundamental tenets of the UK's membership untouched. The extent of cultural bureaucracy in Europe and a broken currency union will ensure that Europe becomes less and less competitive as a trading block. Outside the EU, the UK has the opportunity to be more attractive base for businesses and so strengthen its place in the wider world. Each nation and trade region is pragmatic and these trading partners will continue to trade with the UK, indeed they will trade more, not least because the UK would be trading nation with sovereign autonomy."
Stephen Archer, director, Spring Partnership
"I'm in favour of the European Union, and I suspect that this is a view shared by a lot of business owners. Being a partner nation in the EU is hugely beneficial in terms of trade, especially as many web-based small businesses are increasingly selling products and services worldwide rather than just domestically. EU
membership is also beneficial for hiring too. For tech companies, in particular,
it opens up the opportunity to hire world-class developers from Europe who can
work alongside the best talent from the UK to create more sophisticated
technology, develop better products and services and to help build bigger
the drawbridge and isolating the UK from Europe through a 'brexit' strategy is
likely to be extremely unhelpful to any UK business that has aspirations to grow
outside of the UK's borders."
Ed Molyneux, CEO and co-founder, FreeAgent
@e_nation Stay in the EU, as the economist says, the EU is the UK's to run, not run away. We have the most to offer and everything to gain.— Stephen Bramhall (@stephenbramhall) February 24, 2016
"I was always firmly in the 'remain' camp and Cameron's negotiations are neither here nor there. The EU's not perfect, but it’s the world's largest trading bloc and we influence and benefit from within. It's fantasy to believe that we'll magically shed all bureaucracy as the UK generates so much of its own red tape (mandatory pension schemes for micro-businesses!) and they'll be much more if we have to negotiate all new trade agreements. This has always been an emotionally charged debate about immigration in any case, but I believe immigrants provide a net benefit to society, business and public services."
Sarah Lafferty, director and co-founder, Round Earth Consulting
"The key issue that I face as an entrepreneur is having access to a large pool of quality talent. Our lead engineer is Polish, has worked in the UK previously, but now lives in the Czech Republic with his young family. He is the best of the best, speaks fluent English, and is vital to my business. If we leave the EU, it will become cumbersome for him to get visas to come over for meetings and get paid; all these unnecessary unknowns would arise. The new EU deal didn't achieve anything, restricting migrant child benefit is an issue to sell newspapers rather than anything that will save any money."
Matt Fox, CEO, Snaptrip
On the fence
"Being a UK-based company, our customer base is the British business consumer, so any direct impact on the outcome of the referendum will have minimal impact. However the benefits of membership warrant careful consideration as to whether the UK economy will suffer in the long term and whether departing from the EU will tip the balance of competitive edge member states will have. I've heard passionate cases for both scenarios and feel there's an atmosphere for change. Britain has a proud heritage and has enjoyed long-standing relationships with other member states like Germany and France, so whether we stay in or get out I fear the ramifications of making the wrong decision this June may not be felt for years."
Bobby Kalar, managing director, Yű Energy
"David Cameron's renegotiation doesn't add up to much. But those who want us to leave are not making a coherent case either. The EU does not control our laws. Only our laws where they affect trade and competitiveness will apply to whatever post-EU agreement we enter into. The real danger is that Brexit will create a crisis that makes the Greece and Spain fiascos look like a tea party. If Europe disintegrates, as some of the leave campaign hope for, it will have drastic economic consequences, not just for Europe but for the rest of the world, and we will be blamed. There is no golden scenario for being outside the EU. However, there is a possible dark scenario for leaving."
Peter Burgess, director, Retail Human Resources
"The waters are so muddy with regards to the deal David Cameron has brought back but as far as I can see it won't affect my business too much. After all, whatever the outcome, if someone comes to this country to do good work afterwards then we'll give them a job. However, if the UK does vote to leave, that will put the country on the world stage again, making headlines out of curiosity if nothing else. If that means that manufacturers like me will be able to sell more goods to the world as a result that will be a big benefit."
Patrick Tonks, owner, Great Bean Bags
Result of our EU referendum Twitter poll.
The #EUReferendum has been confirmed as 23 June. As it stands, how do you think you'll vote?— Enterprise Nation (@e_nation) February 20, 2016