Matt Warman says if technology firms are so in favour of staying in the EU, they should use their influence to avoid Brexit
Tech firms have been told to be more vocal about staying in the European Union (EU) ahead of the referendum on the UK’s membership on June 23.
Research has suggested that British technology companies are significantly in favour of remaining within the EU, but Matt Warman, Conservative MP for Boston and Skegness, told a debate about the UK’s digital future that if the sector was so passionate about that position, it should speak up and hope to influence public opinion.
“The tech community is very, very strong in the opinion [that technology] is global,” said Warman, who is also in favour of staying in the EU and is former consumer technology editor of The Telegraph and chair of the all-party parliamentary group For Broadband and Digital Connectivity.
“If you guys believe this stuff, get out there and say it. It’s a hard task for politicians because we are often not the most trusted people in the room.”
Tech and politics
He noted that US-based technology figures, such as Apple CEO Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg, hold strong political views as well, particularly with regards to the Republican party frontrunner Donald Trump’s hopes of becoming the next president of the USA.
Indeed, Box CEO Aaron Levie opened his keynote speech at an event in London last week to “apologise” for Trump’s views, which have provided divisive both at home and abroad. However Warman accepted that technology firms had to balance their political beliefs with commercial sensitivities.
“From a commercial point of view, it’s a brave thing to do,” he added. “We know that someone like Mark Zuckerberg is passionately against Donald Trump, but he’s not going to paste it all over Facebook.
“Businesses need to find a way to get it out there. They need to … publically say it rather than hope [the referendum] goes one way.”
Industry support for EU
Research from industry body techUK suggest that 70 percent of its members want to stay in the EU, 15 percent want to leave and 15 percent don’t know. The majority support the UK’s membership because it makes the country more attractive to international investment, makes the UK more globally competitive and gives it a more favourable trading relationship with other members.
“There is a strong message from the tech industry that Europe is good for business. Tech leaders are clear that the UK needs to be holding the pen on the laws that affect their businesses,” said Julian David, techUK CEO.
“A vote to remain is a vote to ensure the UK voice is at the heart of policies that support the UK’s most innovative sector to continue to grow and create jobs. A vote leave would mean that the UK tech industry would lose its voice on the issues that matter most.”
A separate study from Tech London Advocates showed 87 percent of its members oppose a ‘Brexit’.
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