The thousands of Southwark-based companies should come together to discuss the forthcoming EU referendum, a leading businessman has said.
Richard Kalmar (pictured), the chair of the borough’s Chamber of Commerce – a forum for businesses big and small from across Southwark – believes a discussion is needed on what consequences a vote to leave the EU could bring.
Mr Kalmar, the managing director of KALMARs residential and commercial estate agents, told the News that the chamber’s board members would like to host a conference on the issue.
“The decision to leave the EU could have a huge number of consequences for local businesses,” said Mr Kalmar, who has lived in the borough for fifteen years, and whose company is based off Tooley Street.
“We are aiming to hold a conference shortly after the mayoral election, mostly likely on May 19 or 26.
“We want to invite representatives of any interested local businesses and we want to have a panel with speakers from both the ‘In’ and ‘Out’ campaigns who hopefully have some local knowledge.
“The format will most likely involve questions being put to the panel in a similar style as Question Time.
“We don’t tend to have any political alignment. But we’re keen to work with Southwark Council, as well as the borough’s MPs and members of the European Parliament.
“It seems clear that a great many people are unsure where to stand on this, and there is a long way to go on working out how businesses will be affected if we stay or leave.”
A chair has yet to be decided for the conference, as has a venue, but Mr Kalmar has said he has a few likely places in mind.
The EU referendum to decide whether Britain will leave or remain has been scheduled by Prime Minister David Cameron for June 23.
Conservative London Mayor Boris Johnson, who is also MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, made headlines on February 21 by making the surprise announcement he will campaign for Britain to leave.
Issues such as immigration, imports and exports, workers’ rights and the UK’s ability to self-govern have become key issues in the debate.
Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Green parties have so far voiced their support for staying in a reformed EU. Meanwhile UKIP are dedicated to getting Britain to leave, while the Conservatives appear to be divided on the issue.
Businesses in Southwark
- There are 18,000 registered businesses in Southwark
- The Chamber of Commerce has 220 members
- Among its board of 15 executives of Light Projects, The Russia House, The Creativity Club, Field & Co and more
- The borough has a gross annual turnover of £3.8bn
- Out of those about 25 employ more than 200 people
- The borough’s biggest names include Price Waterhouse Cooper, BAE Systems, Lend Lease and British Land and IPC Media