Business column - Institute of Directors

Jonathan Oxley, chairman, Institute of Directors in Yorkshire and the Humber.
Jonathan Oxley, chairman, Institute of Directors in Yorkshire and the Humber.

The debate over our membership of the European Union has, on occasion, descended into scaremongering over immigration and national security but the business community has tended towards a more informed debate.

While more members of my organisation, the Institute of Directors, started from the position of in than out, the majority were waiting to see the terms of David Cameron’s renegotiation with the EU before making up their minds.

And while the deal appears to have helped some to reach a decision, a large part of our membership remains undecided.

Their key concerns, as business people, are around a lack of competitiveness and red tape – a feeling that intervention in labour markets has gone too far. They are less concerned with immigration than many sections of society. In fact, generally speaking, businesses find access to the widest possible pool of labour to be a good thing.

There are sound arguments that the democratic deficiency in EU structures is unacceptable and that democracy has proved to be the best foundation for prosperity. It would be foolish to allow an undemocratic structure to develop on the complacent belief that it will always be mostly inhabited by friendly social democrats.

As an organisation, the IoD is not campaigning for either side. Instead, we are consulting with, and informing members so that they can make a reasoned decision. From the events we have held with members in Yorkshire, it is clear that there is real passion in the debate and a thirst for knowledge.

There isn’t a right or wrong answer in the referendum. I’d urge everyone to fully understand what’s at stake before casting their vote on 23 June.