The EU referendum is just 10 days away (23rd June) and the question of whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union (EU) has dominated all aspects of media and prompted debate, ever since David Cameron had promised a referendum if he won the 2015 general election.
The stay or leave debate – commonly known as Brexit is a cause of concern for families, entrepreneurs and employees alike, Geeta Sidhu –Robb, multi award-winning Founder of Nosh Detox* and Detox guru to the stars, offers her opinion on how a Brexit will impact SME’s, women and migration.
The international team from EasyRoomate,** a flat and house share website also reveal their concerns.
Geeta Sidhu-Robb – Nosh Detox on Brexit
“I strongly believe that women are beneficiaries of our EU membership. In the last few decades the union has helped to foster greater parity between men and women in the UK through equal treatment legislation, measures for the advancement of women and systematic gender mainstreaming ensuring that a gendered perspective is incorporated into all other policies. This mainstreaming works particularly well with curbing double discrimination as EU legislation is working to ensure greater equality both in terms of ethnicity and gender. Working mothers are protected by EU legislation which guarantees paid leave, the right to return to work and at least fourteen weeks off work. If we leave then these safeguards will have to be renegotiated.
“Whilst the EU has done a great deal of work for women there is still much to be done. In fact, the EU has a strategy in place up from 2016-2019 which seeks to strategically address remaining inequalities such as from pay to the combatting of gender-based violence. Remaining will allow the UK to engage with this plan and give the bloc more strength when campaigning these issues.”
“Today, London is a central hub for international organisations wishing to spread across EU borders. Suppliers, employees and technology are regularly sourced offshore from UK businesses, with thanks to the EU for making this transfer simpler. In the face of a Brexit, however, business owners could see their operations and subsequent finances falter almost instantly.
“As a small business owner myself with a fantastic, multicultural team behind me, I believe without a doubt that a Brexit could do more harm than good. Workplaces such as mine benefit from having a vast range of opinions and contributions, and with it becoming increasingly difficult for migrants to settle here, start-ups could see the detrimental effects resulting from a lack of diversity.
“In addition, a large proportion of SME owners rely on external financing to fund their business, often turning to banks, government bodies and EU initiatives for aid. With a lack of foreign investors and the economy in turmoil, a cut to initiatives (and absence of EU specific initiatives) and funding schemes is expected, therefore limiting the pool of SMEs able to broach the market.”
“The Brexit campaign has completely discounted how beneficial migration is to the UK. Migrants contribute over £25 billion to the UK economy making them an absolutely indispensable part of the business community. Negative stereotypes also warp many truths about migrants. For example, a central concern when debating migration in the UK is the impact of immigrants on the UK’s tax and welfare systems but a look at the numbers quell these fears: immigrants are paying on average 64% more in taxes than they have received in benefits.
I also feel that I have benefitted enormously from the free trade and flow of people from the EU. Ease of travel has benefitted my business but it has also enriched me as a person by allowing me to do business and socialise with a vast array of people from all over the EU.”
EasyRoomate Employees on Brexit
EasyRoommate, originally a French company, was founded in New York during 1999. The main office moved to London in 2005 for a number of reasons, including: its (London’s) status as an economical capital, and a cosmopolitan hub.
Furthermore, EasyRoommate employ staff from all over the world, with representatives hailing from four continents. A survey conducted among the team showed that overall the large majority is against Brexit:
- 83% want the UK to stay in the European Union
- 10% have no opinion
- 7% want Britain to leave the European Union
In addition, 50% think an exit might have a negative impact on their career, with 86.5% believing a departure will lead to negative consequences for the UK economy.
The team responded candidly and answered the following Brexit related questions:
If Britain leaves the EU, what do you think would change?
Océane, 24, French
“I think it would be le bordel, (a mess) it will change a whole lot of things. I’m afraid that – as a French person – I would become an unwanted citizen of London. Afraid that taxes would rise, that people would shut themselves down…..We might not be able to use European health insurance anymore. It would discourage my family and friends from coming to visit.”
Amar, 31, British
“Even if there is a lot of uncertainty about the UK’s departure from the EU, I don’t think the cost of leaving the Union would be as bad as the press is suggesting.”
Fred, 45, British-Ghanaian
“It will change at the high-end not in daily life. I don’t think we will see any difference when going to the supermarket.”
Why do you think some British people wants to leave the EU?
Jose, 37, Portuguese
“It’s probably older people who remember with a little bit of nostalgia how it was fifty years ago; how powerful England was.”
Giuseppe, 38, Italian
“Maybe British people don’t feel represented and want to send a strong signal to Brussels.”
Pavel, 29, Russian
“They believe the EU is dragging their economy down.”
Jean, 26, French
“They might be afraid to lose their identity and want to keep their traditions.”
“Because we contribute a lot into the EU and we could be using that resource to improve our own economy.”
Alida, 30, French-Gabonese
“As always people see evil in others. I think some British people want a Brexit mostly by fearing immigration. It is ignorance. They only see “la jungle de Calais”, they don’t realise the richness brought to their country through immigration.”
Chris, 40, British
“There is loads of reasons: the legal interventions by Brussels, the benefits point, the increased pressure that immigration creates on our public services. The fact that sovereignty is increasingly moving to Brussels.”
“The EU project is far too expensive and is not value for money. It has been publicised that – for 20 years – auditors have not seen a clear application of the money the EU has received for its projects. The accounting lacks transparency.”
Eugene, 26, Latvian
“People talk too much about solidarity and never or very rarely talk about fixing what isn’t working.”
Would London still be attractive outside of the EU?
“It’s still a powerful city with or without Europe. It is a tech capital of the world.”
“It is a cosmopolitan city, you can always find your people here, it is easy to settle.”
Ludovic, 26, French
“I wouldn’t have come to London if it have been as complicated to get a visa as the United States for example. Not only for the paperwork I would have to do, but also for the companies. They would also have a lot of forms to fill and it would be a lot of trouble for them as well.”
“When my husband and I decided to come here to the UK, it was because it is part of Europe. I was looking for somewhere close from France where people spoke English. We wouldn’t have come if we had had to apply for visas. My husband is allergic to paperwork and I had my share: struggling with French administration for 14 years to get my “carte de séjour” (French visa) renewed every year before I was naturalised.”
Do you think Britain should leave?
Dami, 31, German-Nigerian
“It is like when you are in a pretty decent relationship, but you think you can do better. More often than not, the answer is working harder on that relationship instead of looking for a new girlfriend.”
Ding-Zhe, 33, French-Taiwanese
“As a qualified professional, it doesn’t make much difference to me if the UK stays or leaves the Union. But I don’t think British people realise the outcome for them… Honestly, if they want to leave, I say let them. I’m tired of this debate!”
“I think leaving the EU might affect the UK very badly and that is why nobody really has a clear argument for staying or not. Because I’m more of a pessimistic person, I want to stay.”
“Yes, I do, I think the EU project is doomed to fail. You can’t manage separate states the way they are.”
“Things can be done better with less bureaucratic fuss… If I had the chance to vote I will vote to leave as well.”
Whatever you decide to do, ensure to make the most of your vote -which has been described as the most important political decision of our generation. After the votes have been counted and the decision reached on whether the UK stays or remains, there is no doubt that this spirited debate, which has polarized opinion has earned its place in the annals of history.