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Businesses cannot bury heads in the sand over EU vote

22 Jan 2016

Responding to David Cameron’s speech today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Institute of Directors said that businesses of all sizes need to be considering the implications of the EU referendum at the most senior levels, whether or not they decide to say anything in public.

Allie Renison, Head of Europe and Trade Policy at the IoD, said:

“The Prime Minister is absolutely right to say businesses must play an important role in the run-up to the EU referendum. First and foremost, they have a duty to their shareholders, employees and customers to be discussing the implications of the vote at the most senior levels. We are concerned that not all businesses are preparing themselves sufficiently for the UK’s most significant political and economic decision for a generation.

“The vote is going to happen, and businesses need to work out how the result will affect their operations and begin planning accordingly. Discussions should cover everything from dealing with any uncertainty in the run-up to the vote, assessing how any reforms David Cameron secures will affect them, and preparing for the possibility of Brexit. These are complex issues, with a host of factors – known and unknown. But that is no excuse for not talking about the issue. While both campaigns will be hard at work trying to get businesses to make public statements supporting their side, ultimately the decision must be up to the firms themselves.

“Businesses want to see the Prime Minister pushing reforms to make the EU more economically competitive, including taking the shears to unnecessary regulation. With half of IoD members saying their vote in the referendum depends on what reforms David Cameron is able to achieve, his full focus now must be on the negotiations with other EU states.”


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