John Longworth: EU referendum a choice ‘between the devil and the deep blue sea’

3rd March 2016

At his keynote speech at the British Chambers of Commerce Annual Conference, John Longworth will say:

On business taxation:

“Let me be crystal clear: all multinational businesses with operations in Britain have an obligation to pay the full tax due on profits from their activities in this country.

“It is in their inherent self-interest to recognise – and quickly – that they only prosper with the consent of the societies in which they operate.

“Large-scale tax avoidance by multinational businesses generates huge anger among other businesses, and is seen as unfair competition that undermines the implicit contract between business and society – and of Britain as an open, free market.”

On Europe:

“As the British Chambers of Commerce, we have declared that we will not campaign, but that we will survey member companies, report their views, and inform the debate…

“Nonetheless, the people of our country now face a choice, between staying in what is essentially an unreformed European Union, with the Eurozone moving off in another direction and with Britain sitting on the margins, or leaving the European Union, with all the near-term uncertainty and disruption that this will cause.

“Undoubtedly a tough choice. You might say, a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea.”

“Business leaders are, of course, by and large driven by economically rational decision making…

“Decision making in business suffers from the pressures of the short term and is naturally focused on the interests of the particular business concerned.

“If I were to ask the business community one thing in this referendum, it would be to look to the long term and the wider interests of the society in which you operate, and make your choice based not on the next financial year, but on what you want for your children and grandchildren.”

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