In an informal poll of over 100 of the UK’s leading logistics professionals, more than 60% indicated that, in their opinion, the nation’s best interests would be served by Britain remaining part of the EU.
The survey was undertaken at a networking luncheon for the logistics industry held at the House of Lords and organised by UKWA - Britain’s foremost trade body representing companies operating in the supply chain sector.
Hosted by Lord Brabazon of Tara and delivered in partnership with supply chain identification solutions specialists, Zetes, UKWA’s House of Lords networking luncheon was attended by some 110 senior personnel from UKWA member companies along with key suppliers to the logistics industry, supply chain directors from the retail and manufacturing sectors and, of course, several politicians.
During the course of the lunch guests listened to the views of politicians from both sides of the ‘Brexit’ debate.
The former chairman of Northern Foods, Conservative Peer Lord Haskins, laid out the case for the ‘in’ camp, while UKIP MEP, Jill Seymour, responded for the ‘outs’.
Lord Haskins outlined what, in his opinion, are the key reasons for Britain staying within the EU framework. They included the need to be in a position to play a prominent role in future reforms of the European banking system and the importance of continuing cross-border collaboration on energy consumption and other climate change issues.
On the subject of immigration he stressed his view that much of British industry relies on migrant labour and suggested that many of the companies represented at the lunch would not enjoy their current success without the contribution made by the many foreign nationals they employ among their workforces.
Predictably, UKIP MEP Jill Seymour responded robustly to many of Lord Haskins’ claims. The EU is responsible for the higher energy costs that British businesses now face and the logistics sector has to contend with a raft of new legislation – including the Union Customs Code – that adds a costly and unwelcome administrative burden to many supply chains, she said.
She told her audience not to be swayed by scare stories regarding likely trading difficulties should the ‘Brexit’ become a reality. “Trade is undertaken by business people, not politicians,” she said.
Having heard both sides of the argument, Peter Ward, CEO of UKWA, asked the executives present for a show of hands to indicate their preference for staying in or getting out of the EU or, indeed, if they remained undecided.
“In the region of 60% were for Britain remaining part of the EU. The remaining 40% seemed split fairly evenly between the ‘outs’ and the ‘unsures’,” said Peter Ward.
He added: “Of course the poll was by no means conducted in a scientific way, but I think it provided an interesting snapshot of the way some of the most senior people in the UK supply chain sector feel about the ‘Brexit’ issue.”
“The House of Lords is a fitting venue to host an occasion with so many prominent and influential members of the UK’s logistics community,” said Peter Ward.
He added: “From the feedback we have had, the event is a very popular opportunity to meet old colleagues, make new contacts and discuss the many and varied business issues that those working within the modern logistics face on a day-to-day basis.
“UKWA is the Voice of the Logistics Industry and events like this provide a fantastic opportunity for us to explore how best we can work collaboratively with government and policy makers to overcome the challenges confronted by our sector.”
UKWA’s House of Lords lunch is held annually and is free to attend for UKWA members.