Brexit: UK tech leaders get behind ‘Remain’ campaign

22 Jun 2016

The lobby group TechUK, which represents some of the leading technology companies operating in the UK at the moment, has come out in favour of a ‘Remain’ vote in the upcoming Brexit referendum.

Attractiveness for investment, global competitiveness and stronger trading powers: These are the three reasons dominating a push by a significant number of tech leaders in the UK for a ‘Remain’ choice in tomorrow’s (23 June) Brexit referendum.

British voters are going to the polls to decide whether or not to stay in the EU, a topic that is worrying many in the science and technology arena.

Should I stay or should I go now?

A recent poll of TechUK members found that 70pc support staying in the EU, 15pc want out and 15pc are undecided.

The majority support remaining because they believe EU membership makes the UK more attractive to international investment (76pc), increases its global competitiveness (71pc) and gives it greater power to strike trade deals (75pc).

Interestingly, those looking to exit the union cite wanting more flexibility in a global economy (91pc), to be more globally competitive (64pc) and getting the UK a better deal in its relationships with the rest of the world (58pc) as key points of concern.


The TechUK Brexit survey findings (click to enlarge)

Representing some 900 companies in the UK – which collectively employ an estimated 700,000 people – the lobby recently wrote a letter to The Times, stating members were by no means “starry-eyed” when it came to the EU.

“But repeated surveys of start-ups, SMEs, investors and corporates make it clear that the overwhelming majority would vote to stay in,” read the statement, signed by individuals including Michel van der Bel and David Stokes, Microsoft and IBM CEOs in the UK.

“The UK’s tech sector is a global success. It is growing faster than the rest of the UK economy and creating new businesses and jobs across the country. EU membership has underpinned that success. A vote to leave would undermine it.”

Scientists, unite!

Earlier this month a baker’s dozen’s worth of Nobel Prize-winning scientists – including Prof Peter Higgs – also pressed for a ‘Remain’ vote, citing research funding as the “key risk” to any exit.

“Brexit assertions that the Treasury will make up this shortfall are naive and complacent, given that successive governments have allowed Britain to languish well below the OECD and EU averages in its research investment as a proportion of GDP,” read the group’s letter to The Telegraph.

“Science thrives on the permeability of ideas and people, and flourishes in environments that pool intelligence, minimise barriers, and are open to free exchange and collaboration.”

A Nature poll of nearly 2,000 researchers living in the EU, both inside and outside the UK, found the majority (83pc) want to remain. Scientific discovery was, obviously, their biggest concern.

Brexit image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic