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Brexit: business friend or foe?

Thursday, June 09, 2016 - 02:03

A nightmare of red tape and bureaucracy that hampers creativity or a vital club that helps grow business across Europe? British business owners are divided on what the EU means for their companies. David Pollard reports.

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The poster says it all. Ordinary voters are befuddled by the Brexit debate - business too. That dominating the bar-room chatter of Britain. Though here at pub chain Wetherspoons, while they pull pints - they don't pull their punches. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WETHERSPOON CHAIRMAN, TIM MARTIN, SAYING: "We have got more regulation as a result of the EU. Even things like building regulations are affected by the EU, working regulations - they like to stick their oar in more or less everywhere." And that same complaint seals the argument for H. Forman & Sons. They've been smoking salmon since their boss's great-grandfather's day. A simple enough task, you might think. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LANCE FORMAN, OWNER H. FORMAN AND SON, SAYING: "We had to spend thousands of pounds last year on printing new packaging so that a pack of smoked salmon could have a warning sign on the back saying 'Contains Fish'. It's completely mad, I actually think that the EU should have a huge warning sign on top of it saying 'Contains Nuts'." They don't mind European nuts at the River Cafe in London's upmarket Hammersmith. In fact, they like to buy them. (SOUNDBITE) (English) RUTH RODGERS, OWNER OF RIVER CAFE, SAYING: "We have so many ingredients from Italy, we work with Italian wine producers, our wine is Italian, we travel there all the time." And that's not their only link with Europe. (SOUNDBITE) (English) RUTH RODGERS, OWNER OF RIVER CAFE, SAYING: "I also employ so many people who come from the EU countries who are a huge asset." Russia's top of the list for cidermakers Hogans. It's a key export market. Britain leaving the EU - potentially a big barrel of problems. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FOUNDER AND OWNER OF HOGAN'S CIDER, ALLEN HOGAN, SAYING: "I can't imagine that if we were to leave, that those five states would say 'Well, carry on Hogan's, you carry on shipping your cider to Russia, using our borders, no problem'." A fortnight to go before the Brexit referendum - two weeks more for voters to fret over the arguments. And still plenty of time, perhaps, to drive some of them to seek solace elsewhere.

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Brexit: business friend or foe?

Thursday, June 09, 2016 - 02:03