The panel was chaired by Helen Dunne, Editor of CorpComms Magazine and Simon Briscoe, a prominent statistician. On the panel were representatives from both sides of the debate. Hudson Sandler chief executive, Andrew Hayes and Richard Patient managing director, Thorncliffe on the ‘Brexit’ side; Jenny Halpern-Prince, founder Halpern PR, and Charles Lewington, managing director Hanover defending the ‘Bremain’ voters.
There was a big show of hands for the ‘remain’ vote at the start of the panel and so the pro Brexit side knew it would have a tough time convincing the crowd to change their minds. Andrew Hayes kicked things off for the Brexiteers, highlighting that 65% of the new laws which govern the people in the UK are decided by politicians and bureaucrats from other nations who were never elected by the UK electorate. Moreover, British SME’s suffer greatly from the Europeans Union’s red tape. Hayes pointed out that a Brexit decision could result in great opportunities for the UK to forge new trade deals with non-EU countries and to control its borders but at the same time bring the best talent from around the world. In short, according to Andrew Hayes, even though Brexit might lead to some short-term volatility, overall, it is ‘Project Opportunity’, not ‘Project Fear’ that will forge a bright future for next generations. Hayes also suggested that Brexit would inevitably force the EU to take a hard look at itself and prompt long needed radical reforms in the organisation.
Jenny Halpern-Prince, on the ‘remain’ side, said that the UK is one of the world’s economic leaders and it would be unwise to willingly lose access to the biggest duty free zone in the world. Jenny also brought up some interesting statistics, saying that every Briton on average saves up to £480 and every British household saves around £3,000 pounds on flights, roaming charges and other things that many take for granted thanks to the UK’s membership of the EU. Charles Lewington thought the status quo ensures the best of both worlds, as the UK has both access to the single European market and several opt-outs that, for example, allowed the British economy to recover more quickly than its European counterparts did during the 2008 economic crisis.
Prominent statistician, Simon Briscoe, who worked for the Financial Times, the British government as well as leading financial institutions, pointed out that no one really knows what’s going to happen after Brexit and arguments for/against Brexit are not black and white but shades of grey. However he noted, this doesn’t mean that if the British electorate decides to leave the UK, it would lead to economic problems in the UK, because the world’s economy nowadays is not just about the EU, since everything is so interconnected globally.
It seems that both sides have strong arguments to persuade the undecided voters, but despite uncertainty surrounding it, one thing we are certain of is that the issue has helped to reinvigorate political debate in this country and will certainly help us to better understand the role of the UK in the modern world.