Fringe Box



Claire’s Column – Stay Or Go?

Published on: 11 May, 2016
Updated on: 11 May, 2016

In this regular column – a must-read for all those interested in Guildford business – Claire Dee discusses Brexit and business. 

This month I feel I have to address the enormous elephant in the UK’s living room.

Claire Dee.

Claire Dee.

If you’re suffering from European Union (EU) referendum fatigue I sympathise: me too. However, with just weeks to go now until voting day (June 23), turning a blind eye is no longer an option.

The business surveys are rolling in thick and fast. Institute of Directors’ (IoD) members are split 63-29% in favour of remain, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) reveals 42% of the small business vote could still be swayed, and British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) figures show the majority, 54%, of businesspeople they surveyed will vote for the UK to stay part of the EU.

In the political ring, the gloves are off between Boris (out) and Dave (in). And even former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has joined the debate with his patriotic stance that it would be un-British to leave.

So where do you stand?

If we stay, the red tape could strangle many businesses into an early grave. If we go, our economic competitiveness could be significantly undermined.

Guildford’s Hart Brown Economic Forum is clearly watching with interest. Now in its 12th year, this much-awaited annual conference at the University of Surrey’s business school is always worth a visit. This time around the theme Hidden Danger is unsurprisingly focused on the business impact of the EU referendum outcome. Guest speakers include economist Vicky Pryce and professor of economics Neil Rickman, and the debate promises to be a healthy one!

As I write I remain undecided. Most unusual as my colleagues will tell you. Very often I’m quick to make decisions and once I’ve formed a view it tends to be strong and steadfast – a bit like that elephant…

The 2016 Hart Brown Economic Forum takes place on Tuesday, June 28, from 5pm.

Claire Dee runs her own communications consultancy near Guildford, and is an active member of the local business community including sitting on the Surrey Chambers of Commerce Board and the Institute of Directors Surrey Committee. To learn more visit

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Responses to Claire’s Column – Stay Or Go?

  1. Stuart Barnes Reply

    May 12, 2016 at 8:35 am

    Don’t worry – the people will decide and all the impetus and patriotism and fervour is on the OUT side. It won’t be long now before we govern ourselves again.

  2. George Potter Reply

    May 12, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    The “red tape” Claire Dee talks about includes things like electrical safety standards and other consumer protection laws.

    If we were to leave the EU then it’s worth nothing that:

    a) Most of these laws would have to be replaced by a British equivalent so there would be no reduction in red tape on that front;

    b) Any business hoping to sell in Europe or trade in Europe would still have to comply with these regulations in order to do so, only our government would no longer have a say in writing them;

    c) There would be years of confusion over which standards to follow and how to prove compliance as European standards were repealed and replacements brought in.

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