What would be the most important effect of the UK leaving the European Union on the manufacturing industries?
We had a very strong response to last week’s poll on the emotionally-charged question of what would happen if the UK opted to leave the European Union, and — perhaps because of the sheer number of respondents — a fairly even spread of opinion. The largest group, representing a third of respondents, thought that leaving the EU would free companies from the burden of regulations, but 26 per cent thought it would make the UK less attractive to overseas investors, and 20 per cent said it would restrict trade even with other European nations: our current largest trading partners. Counter to this, 10 per cent thought it would encourage trade with new partners outside Europe. A similar number, 11 per cent, thought it would have no appreciable effect on trade.
It’s hard to draw conclusions from this. If we count that 11 per cent as people in favour of leaving the EU, then we have a clear majority leaning towards pulling out; but if that 11 per cent support the status quo, we have a clear majority wanting to stay in. Clearly the complex arguments in favour and against are finely balanced, even with five options available.