The Southwark Chamber of Commerce should be congratulated on trying to bring local businesses together to get a clear mandate on where we stand on the upcoming referendum.
The 63 per cent vote in favour of staying in the European Union is from a relatively few number of local businesses that came to the Southwark Chamber of Commerce debate last week, and cannot be considered an outright indication of how every business feels across the borough.
However, the debate last Thursday at Lewisham and Southwark College in Waterloo was lively, with a good panel of guests that passionately put their stance for or against very well.
Like all of the debates that have been broadcast on TV and radio channels for the last few weeks, the statistics by each camp contradicted one another on several occasions. Like all people across the country the business men and women at this debate knew that much of the discussion would and should evolve around economics. Can Britain do better in or out of a large economic trade organisation, that many feel is eating away at our national sovereignty?
On the night, the stay camp managed to convince the people attending that the risk to jump into the unknown waters of going it alone was just too much. Businessman Mark Glover and MEP Seb Dance painted a very bleak picture of a future out of the EU. They said we would struggle to get large trade deals without the markets of our European neighbours. Mr Glover said that many of the international headquarters of large firms based in Southwark and the surrounding area might move with no guarantees that others would consider London in the future. This he pointed out would have an effect on the smaller businesses in the borough that service this workforce.
The out camp talked of opening new markets across the globe with many of our former colonies and new emerging markets with more ability to tap into foreign workers.
Most polls do show that at the moment we are split and many find it difficult to really quantify the arguments being forwarded by both camps. For some it is pretty much a straight forward ideological debate on being a European or a Briton, but most want to know what will be best for them and their families. Unfortunately, no one knows for sure.
This is a massive decision that Prime Minister David Cameron put to the people. While some of the national papers have come out in favour of one or the other camp, it is never been the job of this independent-owned local paper to tell people how to vote. Our job is to inform and present the facts and arguments; On this occasion the coverage is not extensive, as it is definitely more of a national / international issue, than a local issue. But we would as always encourage everyone to register to vote the deadline is June 8 – just days away. One thing is for sure, if you don’t vote you are abstaining from one of the biggest decisions in a generation.
You can register to vote online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. Deadline is 7th June. You can also call the council on 020 7525 7373 to check to see if you are already registered.