ISBE President’s May blog – ‘Should We Stay Or Should We Go’ The Clash

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The Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, (ISBE), President’s blogPauric McGowan

‘Should We Stay Or Should We Go’ The Clash

The membership of the Institute includes academic researchers, business practitioners, self-employed people, the owners of micro, small and medium sized enterprises, (MSMEs) and MSME policy makers. Regardless of who wins on June 23rd between the ‘stronger in’ and ‘vote leave’ groups, one thing is guaranteed, this referendum will have an impact on our members.

The arguments from supporters in both camps often appear as a mix of exaggeration, contradiction and confusion, designed primarily to scare the wits out of anyone possibly making the ‘wrong’ decision at the ballot box, leading to dire consequences should we stay or go.

What strikes many of us is how difficult it has been for hard facts to be heard. In the end, regardless of whether or not we send £350m to Brussels every week, no doubt as we stand in the voting booth we’ll all probably decide with our hearts as much as our heads.

Jobs, prices, workers’ rights, national influence and security, migration, the economy, world trade and parliamentary independence are some of the battle grounds for both camps as they try to persuade us which way to vote. For those of us within the Academic community specifically there may be implications for the pursuit of research projects and research funding which crosses European countries. The Institute will respond to whatever the outcome of the UK’s decision on June 23rd in order to represent the best interests of its members. Right now however I want to invite members to join a conversation about the issues that they feel are important to them. Comments and observations from colleagues from across the EU are welcome.

In the end of course, ISBE members in the UK will make their individual choices on June 23rd and after that your Institute will work with whatever that decision is with your best interests in mind. I imagine there will be an on-going discussion when we meet again at the Institutes’ national conference in Paris on October 27th-28th. I look forward to meeting many of you there.

With every good wish

PAURIC MCGOWAN
President
The Institute for Small business and Entrepreneurship

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3 Comments

  1. I will definitely be voting to stay in. There are obviously many problems with the EU, but the UK is better off in it than outside. Inside it can influence policy decisions, outside it will not be nearly as free as some of the Leave campaign would lead us to believe. There are still many people that imagine the clock can be turned back to some sort of idealised 1950s Britain and see us leaving the EU as one way of doing this, but that is never going to happen. If we leave the EU one of the first things to happen will be pressure for another Scottish Referendum on independence, and this time it is more likely the vote would be for Scotland to break away from the rest of the United Kingdom. All in all we are stronger as a truly United Kingdom and as part of the EU – with all its flaws.

  2. Taking a selfish perspective regarding how this debate impacts upon Higher Education. The implications for the University sector of exit are significant in terms of European funding and partnership agreements with European institutions and Universities. For example in terms of student recruitment UK Universities currently do very good business with Europe in terms of ERASMUS exchanges and Bologna Accord type student/programme exchanges. The impact of Brexit is not likely to be favorable to such agreements especially with an increasingly right wing government riding on a anti immigration ticket. European funding in the short term (up to 2020) as I understood it is likely to be protected. However, what happens thereafter. There is increasing pressure in the Entrepreneurship community for academic to chase external incomes. This is challenging enough in the current environment but might become near impossible in an exit scenario. If exit does occur then how will the government fund UK research? Will European/International research networks be encouraged or even supported in an exit situation We are recognize that the European Community has its flaws with excess administration and slow decision making. However, in my opinion it has proved beneficial for UK Universities and the uncertainty of exit from Europe is not a valid or attractive option.

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