Businesses across the North back Remain ahead of EU vote

Ahead of Thursday’s referendum, a new survey has found that 85% of business leaders across the North will vote for Britain to remain in the European Union.

The survey, which was carried out by the UK Northern Powerhouse conference and exhibition, the biggest gathering of Northern businesses in the UK, found that the vast majority of those surveyed believe Britain is better off inside the EU. Only 12% of businesses backed the Brexit campaign and just 3% were still undecided, according to the online poll.

Nearly three-quarters (68%) of those surveyed also agreed with Chancellor George Osborne that leaving the EU would put The Northern Powerhouse at risk. While 18% of respondents believe it would have no effect and 14% were unsure of the impact Brexit would have on the project. 

Keith Griffiths, Managing Director of UK Northern Powerhouse, said:

“This week, the UK faces what is arguably the most important ballot any of us will take part in in our lifetimes. The results of our survey are a clear sign that the Northern Powerhouse strongly believes that we are better off staying in a reformed EU and is against Britain leaving Europe.

“It’s crucial that Northern businesses have unrestricted access to a continental market of 500 million people in order to continue to grow, invest and create jobs. Leaving the EU would deter investment, threaten jobs and put the economy at risk. Britain will be stronger, safer and better off remaining a member of the EU.”

 The UK Northern Powerhouse conference and exhibition will return next year. The conference, set to take place on February 21 and 22 2017 at Manchester Central, is set to attract some 3,000 delegates over two days.

This year’s inaugural event was attended by the chief executives of the major Northern cities and senior business figures such as Alex Hynes, Managing Director of Northern Rail, and Mark Whitworth, CEO of Peel Ports. 

Catherine Raines, CEO of UK Trade & Investment, also took part in the event, alongside Lord O’Neill and John Prescott.

The conference is the biggest gathering of Northern businesses in the UK and one of the few to attract delegates from across the entire range sectors, with leading political, academic and business figures from across the North of England present. 

The 2016 event led to a major report on the Northern Powerhouse – called next Steps for Transformation – which included calls for investment in east-west transport infrastructure rather than north-south investment. Many of the report’s recommendations have already been picked up by Government.

Topics being addressed during the conference include productivity, manufacturing, transport and infrastructure, housing, devolution competitiveness, productivity and the North as an international powerhouse.

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