On Saturday 11 June the BBC Radio 4 Today programme is looking at the longer term impact on the British economy after the EU Referendum and came to Swindon to see if there is a consensus of opinion.
Legendary presenter John Humphrys interviewed three contributors at the headquarters of Excalibur IT & Communications for Business at Arclite House in Peatmoor, West Swindon on 8 June, to ascertain whether they would vote to remain or leave the EU on Referendum Day on 23 June, and what they thought the economy would be like in 2020.
Interestingly, and without any pre-arrangement, he found viewpoints across the spectrum. James Phipps, CEO of Excalibur, told Humphreys that he would be voting to leave the European Union. He said: “For me personally, the EU project has moved from essentially a trading bloc to a new political state and I feel uncomfortable about that.
“The UK government has been on a ‘localism’ drive getting rid of central policies and decision making, yet the EU is the exact opposite. The MEP’s are not proportional representation in political parties to our UK government (UKIP for example) and there is a lack of transparency that I find frightening.
“With regard to Excalibur, we have been directly affected by various EU legislation and it has caused us increased costs, decreased revenues and profitability, and therefore it affects our ability to invest in our people and the charitable causes we support.”
Juliet Platt, who runs her own enterprise offering writing services to business, said she had not yet decided which way to cast her vote. “It was exciting to be invited to take part in the BBC’s referendum coverage. Although John Humphrys has a reputation for grilling his guests he was totally charming. Of course he will never let a comment go by unchallenged but I could have chatted to him the whole day.
“At the time of the interview I was undecided about which way to vote. However, having a degree in Spanish and French and having lived and worked on the Continent I have always considered myself to be ‘European.’ So maybe it will be hard for me to betray my old conditioning.
“Nevertheless the referendum has elicited unprecedented public engagement – everyone is talking about it. Whatever the outcome I hope that this is an opportunity for the UK to shape what we want for our country in the future.”
The third interviewee was Roger Ogle, former publisher of Swindon Link magazine, who confirmed he would be voting to stay in the EU, saying: “I voted to enter the European Common Market in 1975 and I support continued membership of the European Union. Being of retirement age, but still working part time, I believe Britain will be stronger exerting influence on the direction of Europe from the inside rather than attempting to carve out a new, untried direction by leaving.
“What the economy will be like in 2020 is something of an unknown. What I do know is that, if we vote for leave on 23rd, the nation will be consumed with very disruptive and energy sapping uncertainty which will have a negative impact on economic progress.”
John interviewed each contributor for up to 20 minutes. How much of the material from Swindon will be used in the final broadcast will be interesting. In the studio there will be economists giving their view on the state of union in 2020. When the package is used withing the Today programme’s Saturday slot from 7am to 9am is not yet known either.