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Home / News & Opportunities / Blog / May 2016 / SOPHIA HAYWOOD – ONE MONTH UNTIL THE EU REFERENDUM

Date: 19/05/2016

To Brexit or not to Brexit – that is the question many businesses are thinking about right now.

Last week we hosted a Brexit Panel Debate sponsored by mfg Solicitors, which saw 50 people turn up to hear from both leading campaigns and politicians. Speakers included Malcolm Harbour CBE, Former MEP for the West Midlands and Mark Garnier MP for the Wyre Forest, both representing the remain campaign. Johnnie Arkwright, Chairman of Business for Britain West Midlands and owner of Hatton Garden Country World and Peter Jewell, Deputy Treasurer of UKIP represented the leave campaign.

CEO Mike Ashton chaired the debate and luckily it didn’t get too heated! Speakers had a five minute opening statement to put their case forward for or against a Brexit and then were opened up to be grilled by the audience in an insightful Q&A session. Local businesspeople asked questions on a variety of topics including exports, migration, business regulation and taxes. We hosted a snap poll at the event which found 52% wanted to remain in the EU, 24% wanted to leave and 24% were unsure. This is a change to our snap poll we hosted back in March at the Chamber Expo which found that 65% wanted to remain, 24% wanted to leave and 11% were unsure. I also recently met with the Danish Ambassador, Claus Grube, at the start of May who is touring the UK to talk about the referendum. It was interesting to hear a Danish interpretation of the situation and to hear what other European countries are thinking.

The debate leads on nicely to a West Midlands Chambers Visit to Brussels which I’ve organised a mere 10 days before the referendum! What a time to be going. Seven businesses from Herefordshire & Worcestershire will be joined by other Chamber member businesses from Shropshire, Staffordshire and Coventry & Warwickshire. We’ll be visiting the European Parliament while we are over there, learning more about the EU and its functions and debating the benefits and disadvantages of EU membership.

As you can tell, the EU Referendum is taking up a lot of my time! If you want more information about key business issues, you may find our new EU page helpful, which contains some one page briefings from the British Chambers of Commerce. If you’d like to receive the latest policy news from the Chamber, please sign up to my weekly Policy Update.

As I sign off, I urge you all to think seriously about how you are going to vote in the upcoming referendum. If you haven’t registered to vote already, the deadline to register on is fast approaching -  Tuesday 7 June. Most of all, make sure you vote.

Until next time,

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Sophia Haywood

Policy Executive

Since leaving Aberystwyth University in 2014 studying BA Modern History and Politics, Sophia worked in the National Assembly for Wales for an Assembly Member and was heavily involved in the day-to-day political life of a politician. During this time she began studying for a Masters part-time in Politics and Public Policy at Cardiff University. In 2015, Sophia joined the Chamber as an intern and following the success of her three month placement, she was appointed Policy & PR Executive in October 2015. Her main role is lobbying and representing businesses at all levels of Government.

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