Brexit debate

Tate and Lyle Sugars in last-minute Brexit plea

By Michael Stones contact

- Last updated on GMT

Should we stay or should we go? Who will you vote for?
Should we stay or should we go? Who will you vote for?

Related tags: Eu, Sugar beet, International trade, European union

Tate and Lyle Sugars has written to its 800 workers explaining the benefits to its business of a vote to quit the EU in tomorrow’s referendum.

The manufacturer’s vice president Gerald Mason argued that EU membership had inflated the firm’s costs. The EU sugar regime had pushed up the business’s raw material costs by nearly €40M alone, he claimed.

The result had been to turn “what should have been a good profit that we would all share in to a €25M loss”.

A vote to leave the union would ensure greater job stability, he added.

Of particular concern for Tate and Lyle Sugars was the EU’s “unfair system of cane sugar restrictions and import tariffs, designed to protect our beet sugar competitors in the rest of Europe”.

Mason said he had pushed for that reform “right up to the last few hours”.

Not for him ‘to tell you how to vote’

But he acknowledged it was not for him “to tell you how to vote”.

No longer part of Tate and Lyle, the Tate and Lyle Sugars business is the biggest cane sugar refiner in Europe.

Meanwhile, a letter urging voters to back continued EU membership has been signed by nearly 1,300 executives – including bosses from more than 50 FTSE 100 companies.

The letter, published on the campaign website Britain Stronger in Europe, argued “Our reasons are straightforward​: businesses and their employees benefit massively from being able to trade inside the world’s largest single market without barriers.

“As business people, we always look to the future – and a future inside the EU is where we see more opportunities for investment, growth and new jobs.

‘Home market of 500M consumers’

“We know that Britain leaving the EU would mean having to re-establish terms of trade from scratch with our home market of 500M consumers. That wouldn’t just hurt exporters but the hundreds of thousands of small and medium firms who do business with them.”

A vote to quit the EU would mean uncertainty for our firms, less trade with Europe and fewer jobs, they claimed.

“Britain remaining in the EU would mean the opposite: more certainty, more trade and more jobs. EU membership is good for business and good for British jobs.”

Food manufacturing bosses who have spoken up for continued membership included: Greencore ceo Patrick Coveney and 2 Sisters Food Group boss Ranjit Singh.

So, how will you vote in tomorrow’s EU Referendum? Take part in our exclusive survey​ for an insight into how more than 100,000 food and drink industry professional plan to vote.


Tate and Lyle Sugars Brexit letter

Dear Colleagues,

“Since the general election you have constantly asked me how the EU Referendum can help secure a fairer deal for our business and secure our jobs. I committed to do everything possible to highlight our cause during the debate. My aim was to secure reform of the EU’s unfair system of cane sugar restrictions and import tariffs, designed to protect our beet sugar competitors in the rest of Europe. I have pushed for that reform right up to the last few hours.

“Sadly, I am writing to let you know that I haven’t been able to secure that reform from the EU​.

“I know it has been uncomfortable for you to hear in the media about the threat from the EU​ to our jobs. But I am proud of the arguments we put forward and the fact that everybody ​ leave or remain – agreed that the EU policies we face are wrong and need to change.

“Without these EU policies our business would be thriving but instead it is losing money. Last year EU restrictions and tariffs pushed our raw material costs up by nearly €40M alone, turning what should have been a good profit that we would all share in to a €25M loss.

“We pay as much as €3.5M of import tariffs to the EU​ on some of the boats of cane sugar that unload at our refinery, only for the EU​ to then send that money to subsidise our beet sugar producing competitors in Europe.

“Over the years, successive British governments of any politics have told me that they are helpless to get reform to these bad EU​ policies because they are outnumbered by 19 beet producing countries. British government policy is that cane and beet should compete on fair terms. And when I argued our case in Brussels, a senior EU official told me that if we lose our jobs then that’s democracy because there are more beet producers than cane refiners in Europe. That is not the sort of democracy I want to be part of.

“My message all along has been that we’d like to stay in a reformed European Union, but if we can’t secure reform then our jobs would be more secure outside of the EU. I have given the EU​ every opportunity to make those reforms but they have chosen not to. Therefore, I will be voting to leave.

“It is not for me to tell you how to vote. You all know how badly EU policies impact our business as you all work so hard to offset that impact. You will also be taking into account how membership of the EU​ impacts the lives of you and your family outside of your job. Whichever way you choose to vote, and whatever the outcome of the Referendum, you can be assured that we do not give up easily.”

Yours sincerely,

Gerald Mason, Tate and Lyle Sugars, vice president

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