Tony Ward is chief executive of Clayton Euro Risk
This coming Thursday, the country will make its decision on one of the most momentous issues of the last decade: whether to remain in or leave the EU. This seems to me a far more significant question than that asked at the general election.
Until now, I’ve kept pretty quiet about which way I will vote. What I have called for, in previous blogs, is for the country to make a clear decision that will end all the uncertainty and scaremongering that has gone on over the last three months. This has no doubt affected businesses with their investment and hiring decisions and I believe has made an impact on the economy.
But now it’s time to say what I truly believe: that it would be best for the UK to remain in the EU. Why this decision? While I think that reforms to the machinery of the EU are certainly needed, to leave is simply too risky an option.
Last week, I attended the Global ABS Conference in Barcelona with my colleagues. The overwhelming topic of the day was understandably the EU referendum. I would say that, without exception, all European attendees were genuinely worried about the implications of a UK departure. The word on the street is that we should expect a serious slide on the London stock market and a similar dive for sterling in the event of a vote for Brexit vote. UK equities and the pound have already taken a hammering.
Most worrying for me are the longer term aspects: I believe that a Brexit vote will have serious repercussions for the UK economy and the damage done will take some time to repair. I fear a sharp slow-down in growth if UK-based companies lose access to the single market; there is no doubt in my mind that this could potentially tip the economy back into recession. How long will it take for us to make up the ground we have lost?
What damage will this do to our many businesses, which have suffered already amongst the uncertainty in the run up to the referendum?
This weekend, the International Monetary Fund warned Britain could tip into recession if voters opted to leave, saying the credit squeeze could cut spending and investment. I agree: why take that risk when you just don’t have to?
So there you have it. This is my view. I’m hoping for a decisive remain vote on Thursday. Then we can get back to our day jobs.