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.

Leave

"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

"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

Remain

"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 businesses.  Closing  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

"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.

Have your say

clive bonny
clive bonny

Having worked across the EU and with UK entrepreneurs for 25 years I'm sure the UK, the world's 5th largest economy, will not suffer the issues described above by leaving. EU sells more to us than we buy from them. UK employers can continue to allow in qualified EU people to fill vacancies. The biggest issue of all is the impact of another 10 million people in the next 20 years on our already overstretched infrastructure. Our NHS, schools, housing, and roads cannot cope now, and taxes will spiral up to keep pace with the extra burden on public expenses. We need an Australian style fair system for border control. That's impossible under the terms agreed by the PM and EU will never allow those terms

Damian Huggins
Damian Huggins

Totally agree with Clive Bonney re the Australian " points system " fair entry. it's long overdue in our already fit to burst small island. I've looked at both sides of the coin in this debate and currently, I've not heard one sane reason for staying in the EU. The staying in campaign seems intent on scaremongering headlines to try and plant a seed of doubt. It's time for a change. Coming out of the EU will make us more competitive with Europe and the rest of the World, not less competitive. If everyone was aware of exactly how much it costs us all, jus to prop up this so called EU union, the vote to come out would be a landslide. Are we really getting value for money here ?

Damian Huggins
Damian Huggins

Totally agree with Clive Bonney re the Australian " points system " fair entry. it's long overdue in our already fit to burst small island. I've looked at both sides of the coin in this debate and currently, I've not heard one sane reason for staying in the EU. The staying in campaign seems intent on scaremongering headlines to try and plant a seed of doubt. It's time for a change. Coming out of the EU will make us more competitive with Europe and the rest of the World, not less competitive. If everyone was aware of exactly how much it costs us all, jus to prop up this so called EU union, the vote to come out would be a landslide. Are we really getting value for money here ?

Stephen Bramhall
Stephen Bramhall

As the economist put it last week, the EU is the UK's to run, not run away. The leave arguments are more emotional than rational and pander to those who believe the UK is puny and without influence, so cannot play the global game.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/bagehot/2016/02/bojo-breaks-ranks

All the economic and security issues we face as a nation will not be resolved by diverting our precious and brightest intellectual capital to argue, work out and execute on all fronts how we disengage. It needs to be focussed on the big financial and security issues we and the world has and which we will be subject to regardless. Meddling from Brussels is irksome, but the answer is to raise our game not leave the table.

The world has changed since our majestic past. We are inextricably linked in a global machination and we need to work on our future place as a major economy, using our unique international experiences to help and influence, not run scared for cover.

The leave campaigners are unable to paint a realistic picture of the new world as they see it, and play down the painful path to get there. The reality is the fragile world we can all see. There are many issues, within and without, which require our full attention; economic, strategic, political, security and defence, healthcare, democracy etc etc. These require us to exercise and prioritise all our many capabilities in partnership with our allies, not in disharmony and not waste effort for no reward.

For SMEs we need a safe and secure stage on which to do business locally and internationally, a level playing field (to use that overused metaphor), simpler taxation, support for higher productivity, innovation and R&D and fair and encouraging treatment by government and big business. 5 million businesses need an ear. That in itself is a major challenge. Unwinding decades of EU agreements is sheer wasted effort.

Let us not get distracted by those who harp back to the good old days...those who perhaps tragically are “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”. Many of these days are better remembered than lived. It's time to attend to the future...

Steve Bramhall Cheriton Financials

Ted Buckworth
Ted Buckworth

Leave every time. There is no way that staying in can benefit us. The EU is a bureaucratic nightmare spending taxpayers money like drunkards on a spree. All they are interested in is empire building at any cost and whoever falls by the wayside in the progress just has to suffer (Greece?) The Euro is doomed but is a sacred cow so no matter what it costs the EU will support it rather than lose face. They can't even get their accounts past the auditors the system is so corrupt. Why on earth should we wish to remain? Look at who is supporting Remain - Cameron, Osbourne and Corbyn - what a motley crew. Cameron says we can change the EU from within but he hasn't managed to do so and nor has anyone else for years despite their statements of success after losing each negotiation. Let's get back to being our own masters instead of being tied to Europe's coat tails. They need us more than we need them. Yes they are a big market for us but we are a bigger market for them. Staying in is like having your pension fund with Equitable Life - sounded good but in the event it collapsed and left everyone in tears. Euro will do the same and with that gone the EU will gradually fall apart.

Karen
Karen

I recently went to an EU debate at which Richard Tice spoke so eloquently about the reasons for leaving the EU, and that terrible horrors do now await us if we leave. He had a swinging victory where many of us changed our minds about staying in the EU. What I struggle to understand, is our lack of power with the EU. As one of very few net providers into the EU, surely we are in a much stronger position to negotiate. And surely the EU don't want us to leave? There would be a massive dent in the money they receive without them getting £50 million a day from us. So why have we ended up with what effectively looks like tinkering around the edges in our negotiations? Am I missing something?

Charles Vickers
Charles Vickers

England is a Common law country, the EU follows Roman law. This is a very important difference. In simple terms, as it was explained to me, the Common law allows everything that is not forbidden - in other words anything, even things in the future, that have yet to be discovered.

A citizen of England is a citizen of the future and can legitimately make claim to it - perfect for an Enterprise nation.

Roman law tells you what you can do and all else is forbidden, even the future. You have to wait to see if a regulation will allow you to do something.

Every year thousands of EU 'Roman Law regulations' pass into English law gradually overcoming the positive effects of the Common Law. If you want to see the historical context and impact on the future read Daniel Hannan's "How we invented Freedom and why it matters".

If we wish to have the future, or if we wish our grand-children to have the future and all the advantages that gives them then we have to leave the EU before it is too late.

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