The business leaders
During the run-up to the Referendum vote this newspaper has interviewed a number of business leaders in Tunbridge Wells on various issues including the EU. Here we recall some of the more relevant comments from both sides of the debate
HARVEY WETHERILL – Chairman of United Brokers International
“We wouldn’t be able to establish our business without the Freedom of Services legislation within the European market. [The freedom to operate in any other EU member country without having to create an office there].
“We only exist because Europe has existed in the way it has. From our point of view, it is probably best to embrace the opportunities out there rather than shy away from them.
“There is a lot of business to be had in Europe, and to access that is good for all of us.
“The upcoming vote does create uncertainty for us but we are ploughing on and will cross that bridge when we come to it.”
ANDY BELL – Chief Executive of brokers AJ Bell
“As a UK-regulated financial service, the further away we can get from the EU the better. So much of their regulation is nonsense. It does very little good and it is expensive.
“If I was voting purely for selfish reasons I would vote to leave, but perhaps I would need a moment of
reflection as some of my friends are in industries which may well be decimated by an exit.”
RICHARD PHILBIN – Director of Wellian Investment Solutions
“I can see companies such as HSBC relocating if we leave. The financial services sector is likely to be
impacted in a big way.
“I don’t think it would be an easy or painless divorce. Investment-wise we would have to get defensive, look more internationally, because the stance of Britain in the global economy will massively change.
“The volatility will massively increase. Markets are likely to take a five or ten per cent step backwards.
“There will be a lot of upset and pain for a lot of businesses, because stock markets and capital markets like certainty.”
CRAIG STRONG – Head of Capital Currencies
“It will be carnage for the foreign exchange markets if we leave. There will be an increase in volatility, rumours and speculation, but it is unprecedented, so all I can do is guess.
“Sterling could devalue overnight, but there will be a run on the pound for sure by the speculators before a rebalancing.
“But sooner or later something else will happen in the world and the market focus will shift on to that.
“If we could get rid of some of the pointless EU directives that would be fabulous, and make our own sensible ones for our own banking and financial markets.
“I don’t think you need to be ‘in it’ to be compliant with their regulations. We are not part of the US but we have to follow some of theirs.
“Personally, on a selfish basis, I think leaving will be good for business.”