For the last ten years my world has revolved around small businesses: running them, advising them, and lobbying for them - sometimes successfully - on both tax and regulatory issues (changes to National Insurance being something I am particularly pleased about.)
I think it's only when you actually roll up your sleeves and take the leap of faith in yourself and your idea that you learn just how hard it is to be a small business man or woman. It's tough, I've done it and I know!
Our business landscape is very different from that of continental Europe. In Germany it is the Mittelstand, small and medium sized businesses which create wealth. In Britain 99% of our businesses are small and micro businesses and the vast majority sole traders. In Britain the vast majority of our business is in services. In continental Europe taken together a large proportion is in manufacturing.
There is still no significant single market in services. Yet the single market in manufacturing is almost complete. So it should come as no surprise when I say the bureaucracy of EU membership is crippling our businesses with little benefit, with 60% of our business regulations coming from Brussels.
And it gets worse. Only 5% of our businesses trade with the EU yet 100% of them have to comply with the regulations. Only Directives leave scope for national interpretation. Decisions and Regulations just become binding. With qualified majority voting we have no say, no opt outs, and no vetoes.
I used to think taxation was at least sovereign. But it's not. Our purchase tax became VAT when we joined. We can set the rate but have no say now on what can be zero or 5% rated. Our tourists have to pay the full 20% but in France the rate is only 5%. And if we remain, the EU Commission will harmonise European taxes - not just VAT and tax legislation but also Property Law and Company Law.
When our businesses get into trouble can we help them? No or we breach the State Aid Rules. Our Steel industry can only receive arm's length "help" on commercial terms from the government. Perhaps even more challenging we cannot prefer British businesses when procuring public goods or services whatever the value.
When we signed up to the then EEC, the world order was different. We felt we needed to join with continental Europe to be a credible trading block with America. But 40 plus years later there is no TTIP! The power map has changed - the vast majority of world trade is going on outside Europe, and is growing twice as fast. The EU now only accounts for 16% and that's shrinking. Yet as a member of the EU we cannot enter into our own trade deals - all 28 member states have to agree and join with us.
We are the fifth largest economy in the world, have always punched above our weight and should be proud of it! With the shackles of EU membership removed the opportunity for growth and negotiating our own trade deals are huge - which means more jobs and better wages.
The WTO will no longer allow massive trade tariffs to be imposed, and nothing will change while a new deal is negotiated. Germany and other members export more to us than we do to them. So why would Europe not continue to trade with us - they would be shooting themselves in the foot!
Voting to Leave is an enormous opportunity for us to deliver significant prosperity for our country, our businesses and our families. Isn't that what we want? I do! Vote Leave.
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