To leave or not to leave
01 June 2016
As the date for the Brexit referendum gets closer, advice on the likely effects of leaving or staying for industry has proliferated. Both camps have put forward their arguments and whose you choose to believe may well reflect how you gauge the risks and opportunities for your company and the sector it operates in.
Many top process and high hazard industry figures have come out against going it alone, citing uncertainty over the trading rules that will govern exports to prime markets in Europe after Brexit. Ben Beurden of Shell, for example, has warned that his group would be “impaired” if Britain were to quit the European Union.
But Jim Ratcliffe of INEOS sees things differently, decrying the bureaucratic hurdles and the layers of European legislation that he says are making the continent cumbersome, inefficient and expensive.
A majority of those UK process sector industry associations that surveyed their members found a majority in the Remain camp.
A poll conducted by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) found 56% of its members support the UK remaining in the European Union (EU), against 27% who want to leave and 17% who are undecided.
Similarly, a survey of more than 1,000 members of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE), found only 23% wanting to leave and 2% undecided. By sector, 88% of members in higher education favoured staying in, as did 76% in power generation, 71% in downstream chemicals and 70% in upstream oil and gas.
IChemE said a clear majority of its members believe that Brexit would have a negative impact on many aspects of their professional lives with concerns around inward investment, collaboration and research funding at the forefront.
The leaders of chemical and pharmaceutical businesses across the UK also believe that remaining in the EU is in their best interests.
A survey of the Chemical Industries Association’s 93 member companies showed that 62% wanted to remain, with 38% declaring that their company had decided not to take a position. No respondents said that leaving the EU would be in the best interests of their business, the CIA reported.
Meanwhile, manufacturers’ organisation EEF found 61% of its member companies supported staying in and 5% wanted to leave.
The majority of companies said that remaining in the EU was important (50%) or business critical (20%) for their company, and 82% said it made no sense for the UK to cut itself off from its major market.
“As for the outcome, our members are clear that the UK’s interests are best served by remaining in the EU,” said Terry Scuoler, chief executive of the EEF.
“They are fully aware of the EU’s benefits and shortcomings, but strongly believe that the right way forward is to reform and improve the EU rather than simply walk away.”