EU referendum 2016 guest post: The argument to remain

Posted on Apr 27th, 2016 | News and opinion

MPs in 2000
On June 23, 2016, the UK will vote on whether to leave or remain in the EU. We invited comment from both sides of the debate.

Below is the argument to remain. You can read the argument to leave here.

In or out? Leave your comments below and we’ll publish the best in a follow-up article.

Why staying in the EU is good for Brighton’s small businesses

By Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion (Green); Simon Kirby, MP for Brighton, Kemptown (Conservative); and Peter Kyle, MP for Hove (Labour)

One of the best things about being an MP for Brighton & Hove is having the chance to meet our city’s inspiring entrepreneurs and innovative small businesses. We’re incredibly lucky to represent a place where so many creative people have set up shop.

It is no exaggeration to say that small businesses – generally classified as those with fewer than 50 employees – are the backbone of the British economy. According to Government statistics 99.3% of the 5.2 million private sector businesses in Britain are small. There’s no doubt whatsoever that the local economy in Brighton & Hove is dependent on the success of the over 12,000 small businesses operating here.

That success won’t be dictated by any single factor, we firmly believe that their future is brighter if Britain remains a member of the European Union.

For small businesses stability in the economy is vital. We don’t know exactly what a post-brexit Britain would look like but the experts agree that a period of instability would be almost inevitable. For the smallest businesses – many of whom operate with minimal margins – the disruption could prove to be fatal.

But it’s not just the risk of leaving the EU which motivates a majority of small businesses to back Britain’s membership. For exporters – whether it is goods or services that are sold abroad – being part of a single market gives access to over 500 million consumers. Additionally small businesses cannot afford to comply with different sets of rules when they seek to export their goods and services in the way that large corporations can. Imagine if our tech firms, for example, had to comply with different rules for selling their products in the UK and the rest of Europe – it would be a nightmare.

Small firms benefit from a simple set of rules like those in the Single Market. Leaving the EU could also mean we no longer avoid charges and cumbersome customs rules when trading with our neighbours, and the disruption caused by the changes would no doubt affect even those businesses which don’t export to the rest of Europe.

The EU also directly supports small business through various funding schemes. From 2014-2020, the UK will benefit from over £8.6bn from the European Social Fund and the European Regional Development Fund if we vote to remain. In 2013, Brighton & Hove City Council and Wired Sussex won £650,000 of EU money for a project to help the creative and arts industries. That kind of funding can be a real boost for start-ups – and for the city as whole.

Brighton & Hove is an internationally facing city. We all benefit from firms choosing to base themselves here whilst trading across borders. Similarly we’re lucky to have so many talented people from other EU countries coming to our city to work in our cutting edge industries – a right that Brightonians also enjoy when they travel to other EU countries to work.

Ultimately it is our view that, despite some shortcomings, the EU is a positive force for small businesses.

As MPs from three different parties we have many differences, but one thing we agree on is that our city is better off because of Britain’s membership of the European Union.

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