JCB Chairman Lord Anthony Bamford has written to his employees to explain why he is in favour of leaving the European Union.
The JCB owner, who employs 6,500 employees in the UK – many of them in North Staffordshire – told his employees JCB would continue to trade with Europe regardless of the outcome of the EU referendum on June 23.
JCB sells in more than 150 countries and Lord Bamford’s letter said 78 per cent of turnover came from trade in the UK and the rest of the world outside the EU – with just 22 per cent of turnover coming from the union.
In his letter Lord Bamford said he expected Britain to be able to stand on its own two feet.
He said: “I voted to stay in the Common Market in 1975. I did not vote for a political union, I did not expect us to hand over sovereignty to the EU.
“I certainly did not expect unaccountable leaders in Brussels to govern over us.
“So do I wish to remain in an EU of diminishing economic importance as it moves towards ever closer union? Or do I want us to pull out of the EU, reclaim our sovereignty and regain control of how we trade with Europe and the world?”
Lord Bamford also urged his staff to vote in the Referendum, regardless of whether they voted for or against staying in the 28-nation bloc.
He said: “After more than 40 years in the EU, I will be voting to leave.
“How you vote is entirely a decision for you.
“I respectfully urge you to consider all of the arguments ahead of this important referendum.
“Above all please do cast a vote, one way or the other – your opinion counts and your vote counts.”
He added that he thought it would be interested to see how the UK would fit into the EU in future given his belief their goal was ever-closer political and fiscal union.
“Finally, if the democratic decision after June 23 is to remain, it will be interesting to see how the UK fits into the EU of the future, given that political and fiscal union remains its ultimate goal.
“This referendum is very important. The outcome will determine the future of our country.
“It will have a lasting impact on the lives of our children and grandchildren.”
Trade has been a key issue during the debate on continuing EU membership.
On Tuesday, Roberto Azevêdo, director-general of the World Trade Organisation, warned Britain’s trade agreements might have to ‘start from scratch’ in the event of a leave vote and added new trade agreements for a post-EU Britain could take time as all Britain’s trade commitments had been negotiated by the EU and would cease to apply in the event of the country voting to leave.
He said: “It is very difficult to predict. Russia’s accession to the WTO took 20 years.
“Other negotiations happened faster. It will be a very high risk bet to hope that negotiations would be quickly completed and that negotiations would be uneventful.”
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