US tech giants Microsoft and HP Enterprise (HPE) have come out in favour of Britain remaining in the Europe, just weeks before the country heads to the polls.
Microsoft's UK boss Michel Van der Bel has written a letter to staff taking a position on the matter. He said:
"First and foremost, we want to emphasise that we firmly believe this is a decision for individual voters to make, based on the issues that are most important to them. We appreciate and respect that there are a range of reasons that motivate people on both sides of the debate, but as a business that is very committed to this country, our view is that the UK should remain in the EU."
The tech company has been in the UK since 1982, employs more than 5,000 people and works with 25,000 businesses. However, it indicated that it would not abandon operations here if the country votes in favour of Brexit. He continued:
"Whatever the outcome of the referendum, we respect the decisions made by UK voters. Our commitment to our staff and business here remains firm, but we also believe the UK remaining in the EU supports important criteria for continued and future investment by Microsoft and others."
At the same time, HP Enterprise has also taken a view that Britain would be better off remaining in the EU, with UK boss Andy Isherwood penning a note to staff.
"Hewlett Packard Enterprise has concluded that the UK’s continued membership of the EU brings a range of positive benefits to our business, our customers, our employees and to the UK economy as a whole.
"These benefits are associated with free trade and access to talent, improved economic stability and consistency in the legislative environment within which we operate across Europe. Combined with its particular capabilities as a global financial and legal centre and the strength of the UK’s academic institutions, these benefits have made the UK an attractive investment location for multinational companies like HPE.
"We believe that if the UK were to leave the EU it would be likely to have a detrimental impact on the long-term prospects for employment, research, investment and innovation in this country.
The backing is a coup for Remain as the campaigning heats up with less than six weeks to go until the 23 June vote.
“Microsoft and Hewlett Packard join a long line of major employers who have made it clear that having access to the EU, the largest single market in the world, is a key reason they choose to invest in the UK," said Lucy Thomas of Britain Stronger in Europe.
The firms also join tech giants Siemens and IBM coming down on the side of Remain.
IBM came out against Brexit in April, with UK boss David Stokes saying in an internal blog to staff:
“As a large, globally integrated business with a strong presence across the European Union, IBM sees significant benefits from EU economic integration. The UK tech industry employs 1.56 million people and contributes £1 in every £10 to the local economy. As a member of the EU, the completion of the Digital Single Market will further accelerate this success for UK tech.”
Meanwhile Siemens, which employs 18,000 staff, took the same stance shortly before IBM. In its memo to workers, it said:
“A decision to to stay in the EU would … make it far easier for Siemens to continue to invest in and grow our business in the UK. While Siemens does not see any upsides for our business from a potential Brexit, we also wish to make clear that the UK will remain an important market for us in the future.”