By Glenn Vaughan, Chief Executive of the British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium.
So there will be a UK referendum on membership of the European Union. Business opinions seems strongly in favour of UK membership and the polls also say the British public would vote to stay in – but opinion is volatile. We need to make sure our members’ voice is heard, and we’ll poll our members again today.
You might not have noticed that despite the success of UKIP in the European election, public opinion on this question has been quietly shifting for quite some time. YouGov’s latest poll for The Sun Newspaper puts public support for remaining in the EU at 45% with those for leaving at 33% (5-6 May 2015).
So maybe business doesn’t need to do anything after all. Hardly. If the polls show anything, especially after this morning’s UK general election results, it is how volatile public opinion can be. A recent meeting to share thinking and good practice between some of our member companies was instructive. In particular, this is an issue that is increasingly appearing on the agenda of company boards risk management sub-committees. And that means companys’ Brussels representatives could be asked to provide information and advice.
We are actively working to make sure our members are informed and their opinions are heard. When we asked our members last year, 58% of respondents said that the UK leaving the EU would be bad for their business, and 68% said it would be bad for the UK economy. Today we launch a snap poll of the opinions of our members. Members should look out for that and make sure they respond. We need your input.