68% Northern Biz leaders support IN

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Over two-thirds (68%) of businesses attending the UK Northern Powerhouse International Conference and Exhibition in Manchester, think that remaining within the European Union would be the best outcome for their company…reports Asian Lite News

Prime Minister David Cameron with Chancellor George Osborne in Manchester
Prime Minister David Cameron with Chancellor George Osborne in Manchester

A Northern Powerhouse poll released today has revealed overwhelming support amongst employers in the North of England for Britain’s EU membership.

The poll, taken at the UK Northern Powerhouse International Conference and Exhibition in Manchester, found that 68% wanted to remain in the EU and 64% thought leaving would have a negative for Britain’s trade. Only 16% thought leaving Europe would have a positive impact on their company’s prospects.

Commenting on the poll, Lucy Thomas, Deputy Director of Stronger In, said: “This survey is another sign of the overwhelming support amongst businesses large and small up and down the country for Britain’s membership of the EU. Being in Europe means access to the single market, the largest trading bloc in the world, supporting British trade, jobs and lower prices for consumers.

“The Leave campaigns can stick their fingers in their ears and refuse to say what Out looks like. But businesses need certainty and as those creating jobs and growth in the Northern Powerhouse have made clear, taking a leap into the dark is a risk to their business that they can’t afford to take”

The survey was conducted by influential research and polling company Ipsos MORI, at last week’s inaugural event (25-26 February). Organised by business, for business, the UK Northern Powerhouse International Conference and Exhibition was the North’s largest commercial conversation in a generation, with around 2,000 people attending.

The result of the EU Referendum poll was unambiguous, with only 15% of businesses opting to leave the EU. Additional questions were asked of Northern Powerhouse business leaders at the conference, such as what kind of impact there would be if the UK left the EU, in which the following responses were received:

·         57% thought Brexit would have a negative impact on the British economy;

·         54% thought Brexit would have a negative impact on the North of England specifically;

·         64% thought Brexit would have a negative impact on Britain’s trade with Europe;

·         57% thought Brexit would have a negative impact on foreign investment in the UK.

By stark contrast, only 16% of business delegates thought Brexit would improve their company’s prospects and only 17% of business delegates thought Brexit would have a positive impact on the Northern economy.

The two-day Conference at Manchester Central featured a range of sectors, including retail, transport, logistics, property, tech, energy, finance, national and local government. Speakers included Lord O’Neill, Commercial Secretary to the Treasury; Lord Prescott, Former Deputy Prime Minister; Sir David Higgins, Chairman of HS2; John Cridland CBE, Chairman of Transport for the North; Chief Executives of all the major cities of the North; and high profile business leaders.

Also in attendance at the conference, were a number of major national businesses who nailed their colours to the pro-European mast in a letter to The Times just days before the Northern Powerhouse Conference, on 23rd February. This includes Andy Clarke, Chief Executive of ASDA and companies such as Manchester Airport Group, BT and Arup.

Keith Griffiths, Managing Director of the UK Northern Powerhouse International Conference & Exhibition said:  “This polling, commissioned from Ipsos MORI for the UK Northern Powerhouse International Conference & Exhibition, is a clear sign that the Northern Powerhouse strongly believes that we are better off staying in a reformed EU and is against Britain leaving Europe.

“It’s crucial that Northern businesses have unrestricted access to a continental market of 500 million people in order to continue to grow, invest and create jobs. Leaving the EU would deter investment, threaten jobs and put the economy at risk. Britain will be stronger, safer and better off remaining a member of the EU.”

Matthew Bristow, Associate Director of Ipsos MORI North said: “The findings of our survey conducted with business delegates attending the Conference supports our recent wider research with UK Captains of Industry (interviews with senior executives from the top 500 UK companies by turnover), in which 87% would prefer to remain in the EU. We are therefore starting to see a consistent message from businesses overwhelmingly rejecting the prospect of an exit from the EU.”