British Chamber of Commerce Singapore holds Mock EU Referendum poll at Brexit Debate

Over 150 members and guests attended the BritCham Brexit Debate: "Should Britain leave the EU?" on the 14th June 2016. 

14th June 2016, Singapore: At a special Brexit Debate organised by the British Chamber of Commerce Singapore (BritCham) today, participants were asked to indicate how they would vote at the upcoming EU Referendum. Two mock polls were conducted – one before and another at the end of the debate – which saw an a third of the participants shift their votes from remaining to voting to leave. The earlier consensus indicated that 75% of participants planned to vote for the UK to remain in the EU.

 

The debate, which was held at the Raffles Hotel, outlined the arguments for both sides. Over 150 BritCham members and guests listened to the opinions of the panel and learnt about the potential implications of either result from the upcoming EU Referendum on 23rd June 2016.

 

Mr. Mark Worthington, Managing Director of Bell Pottinger and the moderator for the event, said:

 

“It is clear how significant this is as a moment in British, European and World history.”

 

Mr. Simon Baptist, Global Chief Economist at the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) gave an outline of the key issues and polling trends to date. The EIU expects the vote to be won by the remain campaign and indicated that should the UK vote to leave, the economic shock could lead to a 6% drop in GDP below the EIU’s non-Brexit baseline forecast.

 

According to a small sample survey carried out over the last month by BritCham and introduced by Dr. Bicky Bhangu, President of the Chamber, 56% of members would vote to remain and 36% would vote to leave, with 8% still undecided with less than 2 weeks to go and 1% who would not vote. This is in line with findings of the British Chambers of Commerce in the UK whose published survey last month put the remain vote at 54%, leave at 37% and undecided at 8%, again with 1% choosing not to vote. This was a 7 point shift towards the leave vote on their earlier survey in February (source: http://www.britishchambers.org.uk/press-office/press-releases/bcc-eu-survey-business-vote-tightens-as-referendum-campaign-heads-to-the-finish-line.html).

 

The argument for leaving the EU was articulated by Mr. Richard Whittall, Fund Manager at Alltus Capital who outlined both the political and economic arguments for Brexit:

 

“(The UK) joined a Free Trade Zone in 1975 which has little by little become more of a political organisation…. According to the House of Commons Library between 2010 and 2015, 59% of UK legislation has come from Brussels… We are impotent to change Europe, but much worse, we are impotent to stop them changing us.”

 

Richard also elaborated on Britain’s abilities to arrange their own Free Trade Agreements, given that in 40 years within the EU no such agreements have been made with major countries such as China, India, Russia and the USA.

 

In contrast, the argument for remaining in the EU was made by Mr. Paul Landless, a Partner at Clifford Chance:

 

“There is going to be a serious economic aftershock if we leave… The question is can we afford to leave? ...  Obama has already told us that we will be at the back of the queue (for a trade agreement) if we leave.”

 

Paul went on to explain that Britain would have to replace 53 existing Free Trade Agreements and spend several years extricating themselves from existing contracts while experiencing various political changes. The uncertainty of what will happen is a major factor in this voting decision.

 

After the debate a second mock poll was conducted which indicated a shift towards the leave campaign, although vote for Britain to remain in the EU still held the majority.

 

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About the British Chamber of Commerce:

The British Chamber of Commerce, Singapore (BritCham) is one of the country’s leading business forums, open to executives and businesses of all nationalities. The Chamber network is an engaged and dynamic business community of more almost 3,000 executives representing over 400 companies. We provide connections, insights and information for businesses, focusing on delivering quality support to our growing membership base through currently 14 Business Groups. We organise almost 100 events a year offering frequent and diverse opportunities for networking and exchange. For further information visit www.britcham.org.sg.

 

For media enquiries, please contact:
Ms Lucy Haydon
Membership & Communication Manager
Tel: 62223552 / 67180535
Email: lucy@britcham.org.sg

 
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