23 March 2016

I spoke on BBC Radio Manchester this morning. I took part in a debate with John Timpson to help two people decide whether they will vote to stay in or leave the EU.
Whilst John raised some fantastic points as to why we should leave the union, I am still very much in the ‘in’ camp.

Whilst we’re in the EU, we are governed by European politicians, of course. What John raised was the issue of being governed from the top rather than those on the ground. I totally agree with this. As a business, from the early days we adopted the upside-down management structure that Timpson has championed, because we believe that the people at the coal face should be those making the key decisions that affect them.

However, when it comes to opportunity, the governance that the EU has on the country, I believe is outweighed by the opportunity and security of the union. At a time when our own country’s political agenda is somewhat in turmoil, the continuity and stability that the EU brings is only a good thing. This has been a steady influence throughout the past few governments.

This extra layer means that we’re not relying on the government of the day. If we had relied on the Tories, Manchester would not have seen the investment that it has in recent years. The European Regional Development Fund delivered essential funding for Manchester’s museums, Jodrell Bank, Sport City and the National Cycling Centre – all helping our children grow and develop.

This fund also helped to give startups a home in The Sharp Project, boosted development at the National Graphene Institute and Manchester Science Park.

On the one hand, I have heard arguments that the EU is too big and is difficult to manage. On the other hand, can you imagine having to rework agreements and manage relationships with 28 individual member states? That’s not a job that I would want. It’s also a huge distraction!

This whole referendum, whilst a strong opportunity for our country to decide its future, it is also a huge distraction from the progress we’re making.

The Scottish referendum was a huge distraction, national elections and day-to-day politics are distraction enough. We should be focussing on growing businesses, on fixing our economic issues and on helping those who need it most. I believe that the best way to do this – and to keep our country secure – is to be part of the EU.

I know that the EU debate is an inflammatory topic at the moment, and I would love to hear your views.

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