Why do we British find the EU so hard to swallow and why does it matter to business?

Issue date: 13 January 2016


Britain, Business and Europe 2016 Series

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Sir Stephen Wall, the former foreign policy advisor to John Major and Tony Blair, sets out his thoughts on Britain's often difficult relationship with Europe and why it matters to British business and the UK economy at UWE Bristol's Exhibition and Conference Centre, on Wednesday 20 January 2016.

The event forms part of a series of special events during 2016 discussing Britain, Business and Europe, is hosted by UWE Bristol in collaboration with Business West.

In the half century since the British Government first applied to join the European Community, British membership has been a matter of ceaseless controversy. Why? And what implications does this have on our long term economic interest and the UK's global influence?

Sir Stephen will discuss why the British find the EU so hard to swallow and why the idea of 'leaving Europe' dominates political discussion in a way that is unique among European nations. The United Kingdom is the only Member State ever to have had a referendum on whether to stay in only two years after joining. Why are we now the only Member State which seriously contemplates leaving? Why do other Member States think we treat them less as partners than as adversaries? What risks does this pose to our economy and global influence?

This year is likely to see a referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union. Companies across the South West will find themselves part of a passionate debate with potentially far reaching consequences for the environment in which they do business. Sir Stephen's insider and long term view will shed light on the dilemma facing voters, businesses and politicians and help stimulate debate on what the referendum vote means for the UK.

Series organiser, UWE Bristol's Professor Nicholas O'Regan says, “We're delighted to welcome Sir Stephen Wall to get our 2016 Bristol Distinguished Address Series off to a flying start with one of the year's hot political debates – the Brexit referendum. This series has become a popular event for the Bristol business community, with the opportunity to network and hear directly from inspirational figures in industry with a wealth of strategic experience and leadership skills at the highest level.”

Phil Smith, Managing Director, Business West, says, “This event launches a series of events to better inform the business community about the European Union and the referendum debate. We are lucky to have such an experienced, informed and respected speaker to help kick off what promises to be a full and passionate year of discussions.

“When we surveyed nearly a thousand local businesses last year, two thirds believed that leaving the European Union could pose a direct risk to their own business. This demonstrates that for many South West firms the referendum is not an abstract question, but one with real and personal consequences. Our members also strongly felt the need for a better informed debate with more detailed information about the costs and benefits of the European Union. Sir Stephen's visit is the perfect way to start this business discussion on Europe.”

The Bristol Distinguished Address Series is delivered by the Bristol Business School in partnership with ACCA,Bristol City Council, Bristol Junior Chamber, Bristol Post, Business West, CBI, CMI, FSB, IoD, ICAEW and the West of England LEP.

Discuss this event on Twitter using the hashtag #BristolLectures.

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