“You’d have to be bonkers to want Brexit!” What tech bosses are saying ahead of referendum
On Thursday Britain will vote in the EU referendum to decide whether it leaves or stays in the European Union. While outside of technology, the political debate has been a heated, divisive affair, inside UK technology, there seems to have been an overwhelmingly vote of support for the remain campaign.
In TechWeekEurope’s own poll, just a third of readers think a Brexit will help the British technology industry as the referendum nears.
More than half (55.6 percent) who voted in our poll agree that UK tech benefits from the EU, compared to a third (33.9 percent) who disagreed. A further 10.5 percent said they didn’t know.
Moreover, 70 percent of industry body techUK’s members want to remain part of the European Union, citing that membership makes the UK more attractive to international investment, and makes it more competitive globally.
Many cybersecurity professionals in Britain are also firmly in the remain camp. A poll conducted at this year’s InfoSec conference of 300 IT security professionals found that 78 percent think that their jobs will not be made easier if Britain leaves the EU.
So ahead of the big day, TechWeekEurope has pulled together a number of final pleas from some of the UK’s top technology companies, stating their case for the referendum vote.
Rich Wilson, CMO of Relative Insight: “You’d have to be bonkers to want Brexit! It’s difficult enough, particularly in London, having to compete with the banks and every other startup, why would we want to make that harder? Why would we want to decrease the pool? It would make hiring more time consuming and increase the cost of labour.
“I know quite a few startups that are increasingly concerned about the impact Brexit would have on their existing team, including their founders. These are firms with people from around Europe who would have to leave the country in the event of the UK exiting Europe. In the worst case scenario we could see entire firms leaving.”
Rajesh Agrawal, Founder and CEO of Xendpay: ‘’Innovation and investment are at the heart of London’s, and more broadly the UK’s, success in recent years. The booming Fintech sector has been one of our greatest triumphs since the turn of the millennium, and the UK can rightfully call itself the world leader in this field – and this is no accident.
“But if the UK were to leave the EU, the free movement of goods and capital that have been so crucial to the success of the Tech and Fintech industries would be put at unnecessary risk.”
Kerry Ritz, MD of UK startup accelerator MassChallenge UK: “Regardless of the political climate, the collaboration between accelerators, industry bodies such as the TLA and corporate businesses can provide the stability needed for high-impact startups to grow and take on their global competitors.
“I hope that the voters take into account the future of innovation and the importance of startups to job creation in the UK as a factor when making their decision on June 23rd.”
Mike Laven, CEO Currencycloud: “As we get closer to the vote, reading the polls and listening to the dialog the potential for a leave vote is growing. Will be OK if we leave? There’s no denying that a break from the EU would cause disruption to businesses – especially in the financial tech industry.
“There is a risk that in the event of a Brexit, suddenly FCA regulation would no longer provide a passport to the rest of Europe. We and a number of others in this space have been taking precautionary measures to become regulated in individual European locations as a result.
“No doubt the industry – and indeed the nation, would figure it out over time – keep our world capital position, keep the migrants who drive the economy, find a sensible global approach to regulation. But why would you drive off a cliff unless you had to?”
Richard Dorf, CEO at PXtech, on the impact on the SME landscape: “I believe we are better in the EU than we are out of it. The European Economic Community is a strong world economy that positions us well against the heavyweights of China and the US, making us an attractive trading partner. Outside of the EU we would not have the buying or trading power and we risk losing much of our influence on the world stage.
“Not only does being part of the EU have a positive impact on our country’s ability to do business around the world but it also provides us with a strong negotiating position with regards to world affairs in general.”