Why I’m voting Remain

Tony Ward

June 20, 2016

europe european union EU

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.

Why stamp duty must be reformed

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.

  • Arron – Temple Capital

    The Remain campaign has focused on one argument which is the main reason for its support and reiterated in Tony’s comment above: “to leave is simply too risky an option.” Project Fear in my personal opinion will account for over 50% of Remain’s votes and there will be uproar if even just one of the Remain’s assurances fails to materialise.

    Having been undecided for some time, I decided to vote to Leave following discussions with mostly Remain campaigners. What they said did not add up and was seldom supported, so I started reading more about Brexit and it made more sense.

    If there is, however, hope of bringing Tony away from the dark side to the view that the future is bright, I would add the following to this thread:

    1. Were the Referendum reversed, so the UK was outside being asked to vote to join, how would you vote? Many Remain voters paradoxically respond they would stay out of the EU. Thereon, Switzerland has just recently asked itself that question and now resolved to withdraw its application commenced in 1992 but suspended. The Swiss are landlocked by the EU and the second richest nation in Europe, but still feel working with the EU and not constrained by it makes more sense.

    2. 167 countries in the world are not in the EU so the UK would simply join the same “risky” environment in which they trade. As the 5th largest economy, my bet is that we have a better chance than 162 of them.

    3. Every continent on the planet has enjoyed double digit growth since 2006 except 2 – Antarctica and Europe – so how is the EU good for trade?

    4. If the EU provides financial security, why is youth unemployment in Greece and Spain at 50%? This does not include of course the youngsters forced to migrate for work.

    5. How has the EU allowed economies such as Greece, Spain, Ireland, Portugal, Italy and possibly now France to do so poorly?

    6. Only 6% of UK businesses export to the EU, but all 100% have to abide by EU laws and trade agreements. Those exports to the EU have been in constant decline while BRIC et al are growing. Is it riskier chained the EU or free to self determine our trade relationships?

    7. Why are the richest European countries outside the EU (eg Norway and Switzerland) with no intention to join? Conversely, why is the EU encouraging the poorest countries to join?

    8. Why do only 6 countries pay more to the EU than they draw (the UK being the second highest)? The financial security of being in the EU seems only to benefit those 22 countries able to receive more than they raise in domestic tax revenues.

    9. The EU was originally intended as a “free trade” body, but now makes laws far beyond that remit. Tomorrow is not about the status quo, but about further integration of legislation….of which our MEPs have 13% of the votes and have the least influence according to the study in April this year.

    10. If you think the EU is democratic, the first question to ask yourself is to name your MEPs and where they live in relation to your home. For most of the UK, they would struggle to name even one MEP and fewer still could name 3.

    11. If the EU is so wonderful, why are countries such as Sweden, Netherlands, Spain, Greece and Italy debating whether to offer referendums following the UK’s result? Dissatisfaction with the EU in these nations ranges from 58% to 71% and most of them were in receipt of EU money.

    In my view, leaving the EU is not about leaving Europe! This is a really important point that most Leave supports do not wish to depart from the ethos of working together with our neighbours or that a reformed trade relationship is more preferable.

    Many of us hoped the EU would listen to David Cameron and negotiate significant reform, but the arrogance of the political elite in charge of the EU has no intention of yielding power. It is has lost its purpose and become undemocratic, arrogant and self-serving.

    Whichever way the vote goes, I hope the EU seeks reform root and branch. For example, it should cut its budget by 90%, stop relocating the whole parliament to Strasbourg because an odd French demand at its outset, stop granting money to poorer states, encourage fiscal prudence of its members, sack the commissioners and leave law making to politicians.

    Like any business, if you do not adapt to you customers needs and demands, they shop elsewhere, but the EU believes it knows best for its electorate and that the heads of state for its membership will remain loyal.

    Lastly, I would add that if we all wake up on Friday to a Leave vote, history shows that all the world’s leaders will immediately change their tune and phone the PM to discuss the way forward to preserve trade with the 5th largest economy in the world; in much the same way as the PM announced he could work with Donald Trump the day after he secured the Republican nomination. The 167 countries plus the EU trade on a daily basis with each other regardless and the world will continue turning.