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London Tech Firms Signal Opposition To Brexit

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

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Better in together? London tech firms overwhelmingly opposes Britain’s exit of the EU, new survey suggests

The possibility that Britain could soon opt to leave the European Union is prompting many business organisations to offer their own opinions on the matter.

And, until now, little has been heard from the technology sector, but a new survey of members of Tech London Advocates, has suggested that the clear majority want the UK to remain within the EU.

Access To Europe

Tech London Advocates describes itself as a coalition of tech experts championing London’s potential as a world-class hub for tech and digital businesses.

It surveyed 320 members to gauge their views on a possible British withdraw.

It found that 87 percent of its members oppose Brexit, because they believe that membership of the EU boosts the UK economy by making it more attractive to international businesses looking to operate in Britain.

It seems that just 3 percent of respondents favoured the UK leaving the EU. The remaining 10 percent reportedly declined to express their opinion on the matter.

It is clear there is concern within the tech industry about the impact of losing access to the European market. The survey found that nearly three in four (71 percent) feel Brexit would make it harder to reach customers in EU countries, and threaten existing relationships with suppliers based in Europe.

data centreAnd more than four out of five (81 percent) believe that Brexit would make it harder to employ people from EU countries.

“London has established a global reputation as the digital capital of Europe,” Russ Shaw, the founder of Tech London Advocates said. “There is significant concern within the digital community that Brexit would undermine this position and threaten relationships with the European market.

“Attracting international companies to the capital has been one of the great success stories of London’s digital economy,” said Shaw. “Brexit could see global businesses locating in emerging digital hubs in Berlin, Paris and Stockholm rather than London.”

Besides the above reasons, it seems that the London tech sector is not keen on the uncertainty that could be generated by a British exit.

“There are things I don’t agree with in the EU, but no can tell us what the alternative will be like,” said Michael Seres, founder, 11Health. “ I have an investment round coming up and looking to hire 14 new people in the next 2 years, I can’t make those decisions if my access to markets and the regulation in this and those markets is unknown.”

Business Risk

“The business risk of leaving the EU is on balance too high,” said Nick Thomson, Chief Revenue Officer at Workshare. “The business risk of leaving the EU is on balance too high. Not just for us but for all businesses engaged in the sharing of data securely.”

And Thomson pointed out Europe’s role in tackling America over recent data protection concerns.

“As a large trading block the EU was able to secure the EU Data Protection regulation against US pressure,” said Thomson. “The UK may well have to compromise this level of data to protection in the negotiation for its new trade concession from the US. Leading not only to less data security for people and businesses based in the UK, but also making it vastly more complicated to share data with the he rest of Europe – our main trading partners.”

British voters will vote on 23 June on whether they want the UK to remain with the European Union.

There is a real possibility that the UK could vote to leave, as recent polls have suggested that almost seven in 10 pensioners want to leave the EU, while young people were more likely to be pro-European, but are less likely to cast a vote.

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