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Sudbury businessman voices support for People's Vote campaign for new referendum on Brexit

A Sudbury businessman, who has joined dozens of Suffolk businesses calling for a new referendum on Brexit, believes the vote is needed so that people can make a decision that factors in how much the landscape has changed since 2016.

The People’s Vote campaign announced that more than 40 business owners in the county, including nine in south Suffolk, had written to their local MPs, urging them to support motions for a new public poll on Britain’s membership of the European Union.

Concerns have been raised about the uncertainty around the future trading relationship between the UK and EU, and the potential knock-on effects this could have on businesses large and small.

Theo Bird. (19471998)
Theo Bird. (19471998)

Theo Bird, co-owner of The Cyclist café and pub in Ballingdon Street, told the Free Press that the possibility of tariffs on imported goods could impact his trade, and the lack of clarity meant the business is “in a holding pattern” regarding its future.

“If there’s a downturn, we have to look after ourselves,” he said. “If we have to close, so be it.

“The fact of the matter is something was sold on the leave side – and the ground has shifted a lot since then.

“I think the People’s Vote campaign is saying ‘that was then and this is now, so let’s put this to the test and see if this is what the public wants’.

“There’s so much emotive stuff, but we need to look at the facts. It would be great to see the facts and see if people decide, having seen them, this is what they want. But the current decision was not fact-based.

“All of this going around winging it and shooting from the hip by the Government, if I had a business make a proposal to me like that, I would run the other way.

“I really think the wisest thing to do is put it to a vote. The situation is dire at the moment, and people really need to think about how it would affect them.

“In terms of economic hardship, I think it’s the poorest who will be hit hardest.”

Mr Bird confirmed he had written to South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge to push for a people’s vote.

However, Mr Cartlidge has previously stated he does not support proposals for a second referendum, and that he felt the only sustainable way ahead is to to honour the vote in 2016 and leave the EU “on a sensible basis, departing gradually via a transition and negotiated settlement”.

It comes as a survey conducted by Suffolk’s Brexit business advisers, on behalf of the Suffolk Public Sector Leaders Group, indicated that 100 per cent of the county’s businesses want more clarity on what is going to happen.

The group met to discuss Suffolk’s Brexit strategy and transition plans at East Suffolk House last week, when it was confirmed that a business hotline number has been established and events have been scheduled to help companies with any issues that may arise.

The business survey also found that 68 per cent of firms say they expect workforce issues will arise, while 50 per cent have called for advice on import and export documentation.

To contact Suffolk’s Brexit business advisers, call their hotline on 01473 694803.

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