Although a Brexit would not affect consumer goods group Unilever, according to reports, its boss Paul Polman still favours the UK remaining in. Elsewhere, some of the big drug companies have warned that an exit would damage the UK’s global influence.
And, last month, Greencore boss Patrick Coveney, speaking at Food Manufacture’s Business Leaders’ Forum in London, outlined several reasons to remain.
Were a Brexit to happen, Coveney predicted raw material prices would rise; it would be more difficult to get EU workers on whom UK food factories depend; and the pound would weaken.
A fall in the value of sterling would cause capital to flow out of the UK, forcing the Bank of England to raise interest rates, which in turn would hit investment plans, he warned. If that weren’t bad enough, Coveney raised the spectre of an exit sparking another independence referendum in Scotland and the break-up of the Union.
Not in favour of Brexit
Virtually none of the 60-plus delegates at Food Manufacture Business Leaders’ Forum, held at the offices of host sponsor law firm DWF and also sponsored by ALcontrol Laboratories and insurance firm RSA, was in favour of Brexit.
That isn’t to say that the whole food and drink industry is united in this view. However, if there are good business reasons for an exit, they are not being very well articulated.
Given that Brussels sets the laws on food trade and regulation for the EU, which will continue to be the UK’s biggest trading partner for the foreseeable future, doesn’t it make sense to be at the lawmaking table?