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East Midlands Chamber News

Local Firms Urge MPs Not To Knee-Jerk Over EU Referendum

DNCC's In Business magazine looked at the EU issue in detail in AprilOn the day that a private member’s bill proposing a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU gets its second reading in the House of Commons, local businesses have given their views on the issue.

New figures from the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce (DNCC) reveal a majority of firms believe a referendum should be held only after negotiations about the UK’s current relationship with the EU have run their course.

That was the preferred scenario for almost half (49 per cent) of respondents to the survey. A further 22 per cent believed the date of any future referendum should be set in law now, and a referendum held before 2015.

And 16 per cent of firms said an EU referendum should not take place.

A separate piece of Chamber research earlier this year found that 67 per cent of local firms felt withdrawing completely from the EU would harm the UK economy, whilst 69 per cent believed remaining in the EU but negotiating to transfer specific powers back from Brussels to Westminster would have a positive impact on Britain’s business and economic prospects.

And when asked about which specific powers businesses would like to see Westminster claw back from Brussels, employment law topped the list (67%), followed by health and safety (57%), justice or home affairs (37%), regional development (36%) and public sector procurement rules (29%).

Commenting on the results of the survey, DNCC Chief Executive George Cowcher said: “As the results of this survey show, businesses believe that a referendum should take place only after negotiations about the UK’s relationship with the EU have run their course and this is a sensible approach.

“As the world’s largest single market, Europe will always be a key trading partner for the UK. Being successful there remains central to the future growth and development of a significant majority of companies in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

“The uncertainty created by today’s private members’ bill debate on the issue is extremely unhelpful in the current climate. There are other, more urgent issues which matter more to businesses and voters.

“Given the ongoing challenges facing the UK and its economy at present, the Government simply cannot afford to take its eye off the ball when it comes to domestic business growth and economic stability.”

Survey of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire businesses was carried out online between 20 May and 10 June:

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