Trade and the EU
The referendum on whether Britain should remain in the EU will be held on Thursday 23 June and debate has started in earnest.
I believe that what will matter most to people is the key question of what will happen to our economy, jobs and living standards.
So when the G20 group of major economies including the US, China, India, Canada and Australia warn that the UK leaving the EU would cause a damaging economic shock, I think we should sit up and take notice.
Equally I believe the business view will matter, because in the end they’re providing the jobs and wealth creation on which we all rely.
So the reports today revealing that Rolls Royce Motor Cars, one of our most important local employers in West Sussex, has written to all its employees to raise concerns about Brexit is highly significant.
Rolls Royce is owned by BMW, a company which is usually extremely reluctant to comment on any political matter. So what they say merits attention.
They are absolutely clear that “the UK is better as a member of the EU than it would be outside it.”
They point out that both Rolls-Royce and Mini export cars to, and import parts from, the EU. They say that tariff barriers would mean higher costs and higher prices and - this is the crucial phrase - say “we cannot assume that the UK would be granted free trade with Europe from outside the EU.”
That deals a mighty blow to claims by Brexit supporters that business would be bound to have as good as position outside the EU.
BMW say that, since as an exporter to Europe the UK would have to abide by regulations anyway, it would be “much better to be sat at the table when regulations are set and have a hand in their creation, rather than simply having to accept them.”
And they say that the company’s skill base benefits from the “easy movement of people between the UK and Europe” - an interesting counterpoint to the frequent criticism we hear of the freedom to work throughout the EU.
The calm and sober statements of the facts by companies like Rolls-Royce remind us of the advantages of being in the single market. The more I hear things like this, the more sure I am that Britain will be better off remaining in a reformed EU.