UK manufacturers weigh into EU debate ahead of Thursday’s big vote

The nation will decide on its fate in the European Union on Thursday 23rd June and it’s not just politicians who have been trying to persuade members of the public which way to vote.

Bosses of UK manufacturers have made their case for remain or leaving, including the Chairman of JCB, Lord Bamford, and Sir James Dyson (founder of Dyson) in favour of leaving, while the Chairman of James Cropper – the listed specialist paper, moulded fibre and advanced materials group – is among those in favour of remain.

Over 11 factories, JCB has over 6,500 employees and exports over three quarters of production, with the firm generating export revenues of around £1.35bn. Writing to JCB’s staff, Lord Bamford said he was “confident that we can stand on our own two feet” and that we was concerned that the nation had handed over sovereignty to the EU and “unaccountable leaders in Brussels”.

On the other side of the argument, James Cropper Chairman Mark Cropper stated that EU regulations had aided UK manufacturers. Here’s his statement in full: “Consumers today are much more aware of the impact their purchasing decisions are having on the environment and on working conditions. Major retail brands understand this and careful monitor their purchasing and sourcing policies. If they don’t, they risk a buyer’s strike and severe reputational damage.

“The debate about Brexit has overlooked the advantages that EU regulations have brought not just to consumers, but also to manufacturers like us. We sell our products all over the world to sectors ranging from luxury goods to aerospace. Our customers demand information on the environmental impact and sustainability of our processes and on working practices. We comply with the EU’s strict regulations in these areas and – contrary to popular opinion – this gives us an immediate competitive advantage. This is not an area that is standing still – consumers and brands expect their suppliers to comply with best practice as it develops, often led by the EU. The EU brand has value.

“Manufacturing can be carried out at lower costs elsewhere in the world, but with accordingly higher environmental and human costs. Consumers and responsible companies know this and are increasingly adjusting their purchasing decisions in favour of EU companies like us. Being part of a huge trading bloc with common industry-leading environmental and working practices attracts and reassures customers the world over.”

A survey made of mid-size manufacturing firms (by The Engineer) found they were largely in favour of remain.

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