20 March 2016

There are a few subjects I usually give a wide berth, namely health, education and politics.

We are a feisty nation, a proud nation of passionate people, a country that encourages debate and freethinking.

But in any debate its important to get a balanced view, a view from opposite sides of the same coin.

Lawrence Jones Talks about BREXIT and staying in the EU

Lawrence Jones Talks about BREXIT and staying in the EU

In the subject of BREXIT, I have some real concerns, not least in the marketing of the referendum, it even has the word EXIT in the name! Summed up perfectly by Simon Sweeney Lecturer from University Of York, who highlights, that over 80% of UK papers are owned by five extremist right wing media billionaires: Rupert Murdoch, (Sun/Times), Barclay Brothers (Telegraph), Richard Desmond (Express) and Lord Rothermere (Daily Mail).

The irony in this observation is that Murdoch is Australian living in New York, Rothermere lives in France, the Barclay Brothers in the tax havens of Monaco and Guernsey.

All of them use tax haven entities to avoid UK taxes.

Yet, as an ordinary Briton going about our business, we are immersed in a sea of media. Our mobiles feed us headlines, the very latest up to the second news.

But if the vast majority of the news channels (with the exception of The BEEB – of course) run by some of the UK’s most influential people are making mischief, I believe we are heading towards some very troubled waters ahead.

I asked a reputable BBC journalist (Off air) what was their opinion on BREXIT, in or out? He replied with sincerity, “I have no opinion.”

Now of course he will do, but the consummate professionalism of being a journalist for arguably the most neutral News organisation in the World means that he is willing to sacrifice his own views to ensure he reports a balanced view.

Can the journalists from some of these other media outlets say with the same sincerity, we deliver an unbiased view in an attempt for you to make up your own mind.

The problem we have is that “disruption sells newspapers.” Controversy and fear fuel debate and we look to our reputable news sources for the answer.

But with the “reputable news sources” reporting a very one sided view of “funny shaped bananas and illegal immigration” people are not being given all the facts.

Personally I’d be very concerned if we left Europe.

It would create a huge amount of uncertainty and we know from previous downturns in the economy just how dangerous uncertainty is. A mere shift in emotion creates a negative economy.

We are currently enjoying the momentum of a much stronger economy where the government, whether you like them or not, are clearing debt and strengthening the UK’s balance sheet.

An absolute prerequisite of a strong business and politics aside, as an entrepreneur its refreshing to see a government adopting this principal. After tough times, come happier times and this is a strategy that can only leave us stronger in the long run, with more money to invest in to things that matter; education and health.

But does the EU do anything tangible for the UK? 
Former Conservative Prime Minister John Major said it would be “verging on the reckless” for Britain to leave the 28-member bloc. Major said supporters of leaving are exercising “self deception to the point of delusion” when they insist Britain can quit the EU and then renegotiate trade deals to its advantage.
I have to agree with this sentiment and hearing Boris Johnsons views on the subject who threw his hat in the ring to help. I can’t imagine a worse foreign envoy or diplomat.
Boris enjoys frustrating people and creating a juxtaposition. He underestimates the job of negotiating over a 100 trade deals with 28 separate states. He demonstrates unprecedented naivety and overestimates his own ability. It’s a colossal job and would take a lifetime. Experts are estimating 10 to 20 years minimum.

This makes sense too. Europe is a club. One we fought very hard to join and be a part of. If we leave this club, what makes Boris and all the “lets leave” campaigners think we’d suddenly get welcomed back from individual members.

We’d most certainly be on the back foot and each deal would mean considerable concessions.

I was lucky enough to be sat next to John Major at a dinner a few years ago and before talking with him, I might have swayed on the side of BREXIT sympathisers, but he explained with real passion a caring the problems we’d face as an isolated island.

We are the sum of all the decisions we make and this is one that involves generations to come.

We are the sum of all the decisions we make and this is one that involves generations to come.

Major’s view that Brexits argument that “the EU needs the UK market more than we need theirs is at best disingenuous, more bluntly it is fantasy.”

With 57% of all the UK’s trade coming from the EU, Europe is a bigger part of our every day lives, much more than people realise.

Yes we spend £7bn to be part of the EU club, which is around 1% of the money we spend running the country. But what have we got from it?

Well the EU has funded some amazing projects, old and new, and its healthy to discuss and be reminded of them.

Projects that lead the world like Jodrell Bank Telescope to the National Graphene Institute wouldn’t exist in the UK. Our government is cutting funds and wouldn’t be investing in these projects that fall outside of the imagination of politicians,who are limited to roads and rail improvements.
In Manchester we have hthe National Cycling Centre, the home of British Cycling. Could there be a link there between the success of one of the most extraordinary turnarounds in sports and Olympics? The focus on cycling and the funding made everything that followed possible.

Manchester Science Park, which in turn attracts businesses to the area from all over the globe to set up and do research and trade from the UK.

Do the thousands of people in the area around Sports City, the Manchester City football club realise that this was fuelled by EU funding?

Do the millions of people commuting and using the New Victoria Tram station realise that improvements were financed by the EU?

The Sharp Project pioneered by Sir Howard Bernstein and Sir Richard Lees was a great idea, but could not have gone ahead in a cost cutting world of politics after the governments changed hands, yet this is a project that is changing Manchester and the whole of the UK tech industry.

Its sparked imagination and others are now following suit too.

I could go on and on, but its not just the tangible things you see. It’s the fact that we have been encouraged by the EU to stop smoking in offices and public places, to improve our beaches, to remove lead from petrol, to invest in clean air and create clean energy and so much more.

We have no idea just how much positive impact the EU club has on our little nation. I like the fact that our Governments are held accountable. Whether you vote labour or conservative, we are part of a bigger group that keeps us on our toes and makes sure our interests are being served.

I am not saying stop being British, not at all. I am British through and through. We have our Queen, we have our pound, we have our traditions, and we always will.

But don’t for a second thing that voting us out of the EU will stop illegal immigration. “Illegal immigration” by its very name will still be illegal whether we are in or out.

We have to tackle the problems that matter and this is one of them undoubtedly, but to assume that this problem will just go away, is a nonsense. We have illegal immigrants coming from all over the world, its just that the media is pointing the camera to the ones on the French border. There are huge numbers coming through our airports “on business” and then staying. If people want to come to Britain, if they want to enough they can swim or get a little dinghy!

As a businessman, I like being able to set up a business in the UE. We have a project on hold in Amsterdam currently, as the uncertainty over potential changes in Duty and tax aren’t filling me full of confidence. Brexit would be a disaster and with the internet making it easier than ever before to export and market abroad, why would we start to tie the hands of all the UK businesses when everyone else is allowed to fly?

How many other businesses are nervous about the location of their European Headquaters being located in the UK?

How many businesses would leave just on this basis. If you move your international business to the UK so you are able to seamlessly trade with 28 member states and then the one where you are located leaves, where do you put your business? It’s not difficult to imagine. They will move.
I am on BBC radio later talking with one of their political editors about this very subject and as the debate hots up I am on again with a For and Against discussion with the great John Timpson later in the week. So it looks like a busy few days ahead with the run up to Easter.

I’d love your thoughts on this emotive subject. Let me know how you are planning to vote or which side of the fence you are leaning towards. Be great to hear your opinion.

Best LJ



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