Why an exit from EU would be bad for British business
- By Richard Branson -
- Jan 03, 2013
It's 2013, a new year, but we have the same old question about Britain's place in Europe, with calls for a referendum that could lead to the country's exit.
An exit would be very bad for British business and the economy as a whole. The UK has always been a successful trading nation and has built relationships around the world to help its companies prosper. However, today global business relies on large trading agreements created by regions and not by countries.
The EU is the UK's biggest trading partner. Its combined market dwarfs the US and China. For that reason alone, the UK must stay in to help rebuild the EU. Obviously Europe has had difficulties, but so has America and most other countries in the world. The tough medicine that countries like Ireland, Spain and Portugal have given themselves will result in Europe being in far better shape than America in a few years' time.
Looking ahead there are other more positive reasons to stay inside and involved. We must be at the centre to help the EU forge new partnerships with the emerging markets of Latin America and Asia - and to renew and extend our relationships with the US and Canada. Those powerful economies want to trade with a market of 500 million people and not the UK's 60 million.
The UK must not become a peripheral country on the edge of Europe. This will be damaging to long-term prospects of British business and also in the country's ability to attract new international companies to set up and employ people in the country.
We need to be constructive. Britain needs to get together with Germany to restructure Europe. We are in a position where if we take a positive approach, Germany and ourselves could be the key two countries to the restructure of Europe.
Unless we do all this, Britain could be an island completely adrift in 20 years.
The CBI and its Director-General John Cridland are right when they say that "we can pack a bigger punch in securing trade deals inside the EU than outside". And that "the EU must be the launchpad for UK business to trade with the rest of the world, carving out a new global role for ourselves."
It is a New Year and time to look forward and outward to help rebuild the UK economy. It is not a time to step back and put up the barriers of isolation and protectionism.
By Richard Branson. Founder of Virgin Group