This past Monday 7th March saw an interesting and much anticipated debate on the upcoming EU referendum hosted by our partners at Sage and the session was as lively as the accompanying #SageDebateEU hashtag on Twitter.
An expert panel, including Emma Jones, Anna Soubry MP and John Mills, were brought together to preside over a session which focused on the views of small businesses in relation to the EU debate and what impact a potential “Brexit” could have on their commercial fortunes.
Until this point the voice of the UK’s SMEs had arguably been overlooked but as the champion of small business Sage was determined to provide a platform from which they could stand up and be heard.
It’s a question that inspires strong views and fierce clashes within British politics and has done for decades now, pretty much from the origins of the European project.
This was evident within the debate and on the panel with pro-EU opinions based around the benefits of being part of and having easy access to the European single market running up against the views of Eurosceptics such as John Mills who highlighted the importance of sovereignty and the control of our own economic destiny.
In terms of the split within the small business attendees at the Sage event, a poll was taken which revealed 41% would vote to remain, 24% would vote to leave and 35% were as yet undecided. The image on the right highlights these results along with some other key takeaways from the debate, click on it to enlarge the stats.
Whichever side of the fence you may fall on now – or maybe you’re one of those sitting on it – one clear message did emerge from the debate, the need for clear messages from both sides and an informed public heading to the polling stations. Emma Jones pretty much summed this up when she concluded: “This is not a competition about which side wins. It is about informing businesses to make the right decision.”
Of course, what the right decision is will inevitably differ from business owner to business owner, just as it will throughout the general British electorate. However this Sage EU debate provided an early starting point for small business owners to begin accessing and collating the information they need in order to make their minds up ahead of decision time on Thursday 23rd June.
You can watch a recording of the entire debate in the video below: