Mev Brown: Why you should care about that EU referendum

Mev Brown, chief spokesperson for Business for Britain in Scotland. Picture: Contributed
Mev Brown, chief spokesperson for Business for Britain in Scotland. Picture: Contributed
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Every day you compete with firms of all shapes and sizes, in an increasingly competitive marketplace, while meeting customers constantly changing needs.

Then some ivory tower desk jockey says: “Let’s have an EU referendum”. Great, like you don’t have enough things to think about.

In a recent survey by the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, 97 per cent of their members did not respond. I get it. But you should care. Here’s why.

Politicians make a difference

We all know, governments don’t create jobs. Businesses create jobs, and prosperity. From a business perspective, what governments do is create an environment which makes it easier for businesses to create the jobs and prosperity everybody wants.

READ MORE: EU referendum: Business leaders warn UK already being damaged

Three key Brexit questions

Eurocrats have introduced 3,500 EU directives since 2010. Every Scottish business has to comply with these directives, yet only 5 per cent trade with Europe. Brexit will mean an end to EU directives, and the scrapping of many past directives. These directives cover everything from the maximum size of a vacuum cleaner’s motor, to the ratings and types of light bulbs, to the exacting specifications of a euro-banana.

So, first, which do you think is most committed to providing you a business friendly environment, Brussels or Westminster and Holyrood? Brexit will result in the repatriation of many powers to both Westminster and Holyrood. In the case of Westminster, a key power will be the repatriation of trade. This means the UK will regain its seat within the World Trade Organisation.

Brexit means we can negotiate our own trade deals for the benefit of the UK, not the EU. For Holyrood, two key powers will be full responsibility for agricultural and fisheries policy. Second, Brexit means more powers for Westminster and Holyrood. Will this boost our economy? Our membership of the EU means we send £20 billion per year to the EU, Of which half comes back and is spent by the EU on programmes under its control. Third, we estimate Holyrood will benefit from a £1.5bn “Brexit dividend” each year. Who do really think is best placed to spend this money wisely, Brussels or Holyrood?

Project Fear

A hotly debated issue is UK-EU trade post-Brexit. We have been a trading nation for centuries. Yet Project Fear tells us that trade will end, a recession will come, famine and pestilence will spread across the land and world war three will kick off by lunch time on Friday 24 June if we vote Leave.

As sure as eggs are eggs, trade will continue when we vote Leave. In many ways, this referendum is not so much about membership of the political club that is the EU, it is about who do you feel is best placed to govern us, as a business community.

• Mev Brown is chief spokesperson for Business for Britain in Scotland