Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson reveals 86% of businesses who participated in his Sedgefield and the EU business survey, support continued EU membership.
Following the 2015 general election and the announcement the government would hold a referendum on the UK’s EU membership, Phil Wilson MP for Sedgefield set about learning what relationship his constituency has with the EU.
The business survey; the first stage of Phil’s Sedgefield and the EU Initiative which hopes to discover the ties and opinions Sedgefield constituency has towards the EU; was sent to nearly 200 businesses.
In order to represent his constituents Mr Wilson considers it vital to understanding what the EU means to Sedgefield. Explaining why he choose to start the initiative Phil Wilson said, ‘With the largest industrial estate in the North East, Newton Aycliffe Business Park, in my constituency, it is vital I understand what the EU means to the business and the jobs they provide the people of Sedgefield.’
The survey received a good response rate, with businesses who participated collectively employing over 4000 people.
Overwhelming, the majority of businesses favoured staying in the EU, although figures also show that they favour some change.
Of all business who preferred continued EU membership 31% favour a reformed EU, and 44% favour some powers transferred back to the UK. Whilst many have concerns about the EU, they believe the pro’s outweighed the cons, and considered continued membership a better vehicle for change.
Mr Wilson understands people’s desire for change ‘To keep up with the changing world the EU also needs to change’ he said. ‘But as part of the EU we can shape the change, by pulling up the drawbridge we deny ourselves a voice.’
The survey illustrates Sedgefield has strong links with the EU in terms of both trade and funding. 86% of businesses who participated trade with the EU, and 45% have benefited from EU funding. Undeniably, benefits of the UK’s membership EU has been important for the growth and expansion of businesses, and vital to the jobs such growth creates.
The results of the survey however herald a stark warning that both growth and jobs in the area could be in danger, should the UK withdraw from the EU.
52% of companies, collectively employing over 2500 people, considered their future in the North East at risk if the UK opts out of the EU.
Commenting Phil said “It is clear my constituency has strong links to the EU, not only in terms of trade but also EU funding, and that leaving would put at risk the jobs of my constituents.”
“Overall, survey responses have been incredibly insightful. They have aided my understanding of Sedgefield’s ties with, and the opinions of business towards, the EU. I would therefore, like to thank businesses for their cooperation. ”
“This however, is only the first stage. This survey indicated people want change, so I now have to ask the question, what change?”