Business leaders clear that Tory policy on Brexit is against wishes of majority

Lib Dem Business policies on Europe vs Tory policies

More than 50 business leaders have backed the Lib Dems as the only party which is “speaking for the majority of Britons” by campaigning to stay in the European single market, saying that the Conservatives policy on Brexit is bad for business, bad for the economy and against the wishes of the majority of Britons

Richard Reed, the co-founder of Innocent Drinks and board member of Britain Stronger in Europe, Dinesh Dhamija, the founder of the Ebookers travel site and the businesswoman Nicola Horlick are among the signatories, calling for Britain to stay in the European single market and customs union.

They have warned, in a letter to The Times, that Britain’s departure from the EU is being run by “hardcore Brexiteers” who have failed to recognise public support for staying in the single market or customs union.

The 53 signatories, who say they intend to vote Lib Dem, include senior players in the investment and IT sectors, two industries that could be hit by a poor Brexit deal. They represent small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) rather than FTSE 100 companies.

“The Conservatives’ failure to even mention a transitional deal threatens Britain’s status as one of the best countries in the world with which to do business,” the letter reads. “While we may not have voted Liberal Democrat in the past and we may not agree with the party on all issues, they are now the only party speaking for business and the majority of Britons on the key issue at this election.”

It comes after the Conservatives scrapped the election tradition of organising a letter signed by business leaders to demonstrate support.

Vince Cable, a Treasury spokesman for the Lib Dems, said: “The Liberal Democrats now have support from a large number of serious figures in the business community showing that we are rapidly emerging as the party of business, big and small. Theresa May’s determination to take us out of the single market would devastate our financial sector while taking us out of the customs union would cause incalculable disruption to our manufacturing sector.”

The full text of the letter is below…

LIB DEMS AND THE SINGLE MARKET

Sir, We represent a broad range of businesses across the UK collectively employing tens of thousands of people. As business leaders and owners, we believe that leaving the single market and the customs union would be destructive to the British economy and to our businesses.

At present, we have full access to a market of 500 million customers and the best and most skilled workers across the EU. If we leave the single market, thousands of businesses would lose their competitive edge.

We cannot stand by while our country’s future is hijacked by hardcore Brexiteers who do not represent the views of the majority. Polls show two thirds of voters believe staying in the single market should be the priority, and three-quarters want EU citizens working in the UK to continue to be allowed to do so.

The Conservatives’ failure to even mention a transitional deal threatens Britain’s status as one of the best countries in the world with which to do business. While we may not have voted Liberal Democrat in the past and we may not agree with the party on all issues, they are now the only party speaking for business and the majority of Britons on the key issue at this election.

The simple fact is that we can’t have both a hard Brexit and a strong economy. We choose a strong economy. That’s why we will be voting for the Liberal Democrats.

David Angell, director, Peter Bennett-Jones, PBJ Management, Roger Billins, director, RB Law Limited, Lee CameronProfessor Chris Bones, chairman, Good Growth Limited, Simon Clement-DaviesGeorge CoelhoJeremy CookSimon Curtis, senior maritime lawyer, Peter Crystal, senior lawyer, Stephen DawsonAlex DaleGuy De Selliers, vice-chairman of group board, Ageas, Dinesh Dhamija, founder, Ebookers, Jay Dias, founder and managing director, Leela Capital, Andrew Dixon, managing director, ARC InterCapital, Craig FletcherJohn Forbes, partner, John Forbes Consulting LLP, Jessica Frankopan, co-founder, Curious Group of Hotels, Kevin Gibson, founder, Hanzo Archives, Stephen Goldstein, chairman, Alexander StevensPeter Guilford, co-founder and executive chairman, G+ Europe, Tony Harris, angel investor, Paul Hennemeyer, managing director, Tom Hogg, chairman, Cheshire Datasystems Limited, Nicola Horlick, CEO, Denmark Square Limited, Leslie Hurst, Melissa Johnson, director, Cheshire Datasystems Limited, Phillip Kerle, co-founder, Tranzacta Ltd, Adam Knight, co-founder and board director, Social & Sustainable Capital, Robert Laurence, CEO, Resolution Property, Paul LucraftTilly McAuliffe, co-founder and non-executive director, Think, Carl Michel, chairman, Firedrop.ai, Turi Munthe, partner, Jo Owen OBE, Tim Parlett, co-founder, Zopa, Mark Petterson, executive director, Warwick Energy Limited, Neil Phoenix MBE, founder, FRICS, Alex Proud, CEO, The Proud Group, Professor Nathu Puri, founder, Purico Group of Companies, Richard Reed, co-founder, Innocent, Mark SainsburyRodney Schwartz, co-founder and CEO, Clearlyso, Rahul Sharma, CEO, Careline Lifestyles, Richard Steer, chairman, Gleeds, Peter Tuvey, managing director, Fleximize, Justin Urquhart-Stewart, co-founder and head of corporate development, Seven Investment Management, Madeleine Weightman, co-founder, The Work Crowd, Ben Whately, co-founder and COO, Memrise, Joseph Zammit-Lucia, CEO, Clinical Insights

Judith meets local entrepreneur Ruth Headon

Judith Bunting with Ruth Headen at Rio's Burger Bar

Ruth Headon is a local woman who has turned her life around. Judith went to meet her and hear her story and her plans for the future, growing a business in Newbury.

Ruth’s life spiralled out of control a few years ago, in a few short months she lost everything, her home, family, her child and friends to alcoholism and addiction. With the help of a great friend, Dave, she pulled herself through it and is now celebrating 3 years sober. 

Ruth found herself looking at a window sign in Rio’s Burger Bar asking for till staff, and she hasn’t looked back. She is now the manager there and has been there for two and a half years. 

Rio’s is now being sold and Ruth’s determined and entrepreneurial spirit has given her the motivation to want to take over Rio’s herself, and continue her efforts to support those who are going through similar experiences to her. Calling herself lucky, Ruth is now giving back to the community and is teaching others how to complete forms and how to read. With a desire to do whatever she can to help people and make a difference she has completed both Peer and Facilitating Training. 

Ruth describes the team at Rios as ‘a team of amazing people, my own little family. This is my recovery community. People come to Rio’s for food and advice’. 

Judith Bunting with Ruth Headen & her team at Rio's Burgers
Judith with Ruth (far right) & her team at Rio’s Burgers

Judith said: “I support Ruth and her venture; looking to the future and not backwards – we need more of this. Ruth has overcome a great deal to get to the position she is in now and she says people should “have pride at where you are now, not shame about where you have been”.” 

Ruth is now looking to buy Rios burgers in Newbury where she has worked for 2.5 years and is currently successfully managing. Ruth has set up her own crowd funding page to support her efforts of buying Rio’s and enable her to continue her charitable support of those who are suffering. http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/rios-for-ruth

The Liberal Democrats have announced policies to support local businesses and entrepreneurs in their 2017 manifesto. Judith says: “Backing local businesses is very important to me as a local person, as when small businesses thrive they strengthen our economy and provide local jobs.”

Judith Bunting: Standing up for Local Business