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Civils firms enter Brexit debate

Civil engineering, EU

Some of the biggest names in civil engineering have signed a letter in support of the campaign to keep Britain in the European Union.

The heads of Babcock, Carillion, Mace Group, Weir Group and Atkins are among those who signed a letter published in The Times newspaper today setting out the business benefits of Britain remaining in the EU. Arup chairman Greg Hodkinson also signed it, but in a personal capacity.

At the weekend prime minister David Cameron announced there would be a referendum on whether Britain should remain in the EU on June 23.

The letter said: “The businesses we lead represent every sector and region of the United Kingdom. Together we employ hundreds of thousands of people across the country. Following the Prime Minister’s renegotiation, we believe that Britain is better off staying in a reformed European Union. He has secured a commitment from the EU to reduce the burden of regulation, deepen the single market and to sign off crucial international trade deals.

“Business needs unrestricted access to the European market of 500M people to continue to grow, invest and create jobs. We believe that leaving the EU would deter investment, threaten jobs and put the economy at risk. Britain would be stronger, safer and better off remaining a member of the EU.”

Atkins said that the nature of its business means that it relies heavily on the availability of the best qualified engineers and scientists to support its national, European and international clients.

It said: “The availability of talent in Europe without restrictions as well as our European client base are important factors of Atkins’ success. We fundamentally believe that it is in Atkins’ best interest that the UK remains in the European Union. Therefore, as a FTSE 200 business, it is important that we contribute to the debate.

“First and foremost, we consider that this is about Europe’s economy, peace and security.  These are important to our business, our people and the communities in which we work. If we are to have influence over these important matters, we have to be part of Europe.  Otherwise, we will be an outsider looking in and that is a much harder position from which to influence. At the same time, we believe that Britain’s initiative to reduce bureaucratic complexity and encourage entrepreneurship and common sense in the European Union merits our full support.”

Atkins said it will support the UK Government and its clients at events and in communications materials being prepared to support the campaign to keep the UK in the EU. However it will not become a proactive pro-Europe campaigner in its own right, but will take part in joint activities with other UK-based businesses. 

Readers' comments (2)

  • Economy, peace , security. Like we've been doing really well at that for the past 20 years ...

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  • This sounds very much like big businesses wanting cheaper labour. It may be in the interests of these business leaders to stay in Europe but not for its workforce.

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