The EU is a slow-moving caravan, forced to move at the speed of its slowest member. It imposes job-destroying, one-size-fits-all regulations and policies, in a centralised manner. But to prosper, companies (and countries) need policy flexibility, which the EU does not offer. Unfortunately, we have little democratic capacity to overturn bad EU laws. Ever-growing regulation will continue, and I am not aware of any business-friendly rules coming out of Brussels, nor of any attempt to help the City of London maintain its prominence in financial services. We are exporting more to emerging markets now. Our exports to the EU are falling, and the continent is undergoing demographic decline. I do not fear being outside this caravan. I have enjoyed building a small, agile company, able to out-manoeuvre my larger competitors and, in reality, the Eurozone could not afford to wage a trade war with the UK.
Robert Hiscox is chairman of Hiscox Insurance.
Walking away from Europe – the UK’s biggest trading partner – would damage British business for decades. The UK is one of the most attractive EU countries to investors, but this would quickly cease to be the case if we left, as our access to the single market would be lost. Last week the head of Honda UK echoed this warning, saying that Britain needs to remain at the heart of Europe to avoid losing out on investment. Many of the 700,000 jobs dependent on the car industry would be put at risk were the UK to leave, as tariffs would be imposed on UK cars exported to the EU. According to TheCityUK, 50 per cent of corporation tax revenue from financial services could leave the UK, and erecting barriers to the free movement of services would jeopardise London’s place as a global financial centre. Europe is the bedrock of the UK’s trade and remains a platform not only to European markets, but to the whole world.
Roland Rudd is chairman of Business for New Europe.