Paul Ormerod presenting his balanced view (centre) while Paul Hannah (left) and Dylan Leighton (right) take note
Photo by Kerry & David Hargreaves Photography

Brexit for Breakfast

Date online: 17/06/2016

BUSINESS leaders from across greater Manchester were offered beers and breakfast at a debate on the pros and cons of Brexit ahead of next week’s referendum, organised and hosted by Rochdale law firm Molesworths.

The partners at Molesworths welcomed sixty guests to the special breakfast event, held at Hopwood Hall College’s Middleton Campus. 

A specially selected panel of speakers shared their business views and insights on the referendum and how Brexit might affect businesses and individuals, locally.

Guests listened to the panel discuss key questions and arguments for remaining in the EU and for leaving.

Paul Ormerod, President at Rochdale Hornets and Economist at Voltera Partners, kicked off the debate with his speech “Can Rochdale Survive Brexit?” Paul presented a balanced perspective assessing both the pros and cons of EU membership. He discussed the consequences of exit and whether the UK might be punished by the EU. He likened exit to a “divorce from the EU” and discussed the inevitable difficulties and struggles that would accompany the parting of ways.  He also mentioned how the debate avoids other important issues such as the EU’s innovation lag compared with the US and the tendency for the EU to regulate rather than innovate.

Paul Hannah, Director at Klarius Group, a company which exports 60% of their products, showed support for staying in the EU. He gave a very forthright view of the central arguments, namely that the EU is the largest free trade area in the world. Paul expressed that, without question, his export company currently finds it easier to trade within the EU than outside of it. He acknowledged that the EU was frustrating at times but, despite this, all EU countries remained amongst the richest in the world with the UK continuing to grow faster than most EU countries, attracting significant foreign investments that could stop if we left the EU.

Dylan Leighton, a behavioural psychologist, entrepreneur and business owner, gave an alternative perspective and spoke passionately for the leave campaign. Dylan spoke of the failure of the EU as an organisation and expressed the view that small business owners have little chance of ever having a say on EU regulation. Dylan raised the issue of the crippling debt in 7 countries within the EU which is over 100% of their GDP and how unemployment in the EU zone has escalated since its conception. He felt confident that the Great British spirit would persevere in a “post-brexit scenario.” Whilst acknowledging that there would continue to be problems to solve, he felt they would be closer to ordinary people and business owners rather than under the current system, dominated by banks and large corporations.

An exit poll taken at the close of the debate, where guests were asked to choose and raise either a European or British beer, showed the audience was split in a 50/50 vote.

Paul Dixon, Partner at Molesworths, said: “We were pleased to be able to host a vibrant debate on the unique and important topic of the EU referendum. Our diverse panel of guest speakers expressed very forthright and mixed views on how much of a difference EU membership has made to UK over that last 4 decades and the possible consequences of a Brexit. It was a lively debate, which reinforced and even changed a few of our guests’ minds. Our own exit poll results showed 50% remain and 50% leave indicating what could be a very tight poll on the 23rd of June.”

Mark Birkett Director at Dale Media Ltd said: “Molesworths have kindly provided an excellent platform for an excellent and enlightening debate, thank you.”

Ian Madeley, Director at Gauntlet Group, said: “Very interesting views and well-chosen speakers.”

Jude Honeyman, Head of Leadership Total Excellence Centre, said the event was: “Very well organised, great mix of people, creative and informative.”

Michael Eardley, from PIB Insurance, said: “The best breakfast seminar that I have attended this year”,

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

Molesworths Bright Clegg is a firm of solicitors established in the United Kingdom and is registered with the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

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