On the 23rd of June, as you might know, the UK will be voting whether it will continue to remain part of the EU family or whether it wants a divorce. Merely two weeks into the campaign, and we have all heard various stories and scenarios (mostly scary ones – from both sides), but, unfortunately, no one has been able to give clear answers. As far as I am concerned, there have been a lot of ifs and maybes, but what we really need are facts and figures.
One category that until recently had been neglected was the one formed by small businesses. Luckily, Sage decided it was high time their voice was heard, so they organised a debate which took place on Monday 7th March at The Shard. I was lucky enough to be invited, not only in my capacity of a small business owner, but also as part of the Sage blogging team. If you missed the debate, you can watch the recording below:
Before the debate, I wanted to talk to people in our industry and see what they have to say, see what questions they have, hoping that the experts on the panel may be able to answer some of them. Unfortunately, one hour flew by very quickly and, with businesses from so many fields, it was impossible to address specific ones. However, you can follow the discussion on Twitter (#SageDebateEU) and ask your questions.
The debate was moderated by Ian King from Sky News and on the panel of experts were Anna Soubry (MP), John Mills (JML fame), Emma Jones (Enterprise Nation) and Craig Beaumont (Federation of Small Businesses). The highlights of the debate (which was at times heated) were:
- There were two polls, one at the beginning (in blue) and one at the end (in red), where the audience were asked whether the UK should stay in the EU; the results are quite interesting. And since a picture is worth 1,000 words, here it is below:
- Emma Jones’ question for the audience (“Can you name one EU regulation that is currently harming your business?”) was met with utter silence in a room full of SMEs representatives.
- Small businesses want more clear facts, they want to know exactly what would happen if the UK left the EU; without these, they cannot make an informed decision. 52% of the 4,000 businesses surveyed by FSB said they do not feel sufficiently informed and I think that says a lot.
- One of the main issues that most people are concerned about is free movement. John Mills says that people already in the UK and UK citizens in other EU countries will not be affected, as the grandfather clause would apply. However, the question remains: how many hoops will they have to jump through to prove their status so they can remain?
As a small UK business owner and a EU but not UK citizen, this referendum will have a direct impact on me, both personally and professionally. I hope that, in the remaining months until the referendum, we will find out more on exactly a potential Brexit will affect us all.
I’d love to hear your views on this matter and on the debate. Please don’t forget to use #SageDebateEU to send your questions on Twitter.