Britain leaving EU would be ‘deeply harmful’: manufacturing boss

The chief executive of one of the UK’s largest manufacturing companies has warned that Britain leaving the European Union (EU) would be bad for manufacturing in the UK.

The Guardian reports that Nigel Stein, the chief executive of GKN, a supplier of parts to the aerospace and automotive sectors, said that if the UK were to leave the EU it would become isolated and its industry would suffer.

Stein made the comments at the EEF national manufacturing conference in London. The EEF is a major British manufacturing association.

“Competition for investment is intense. And if there is one thing investors hate, it’s uncertainty. Be sure, even now the uncertainty over the UK’s position in Europe is being used against us,” Stein told the conference.

Referring to his company’s own industry, he said, “In aerospace, the UK makes all the wings for Airbus aircraft … assembled in the European Union. In automotive, much of the output from the car plants here goes to the EU.

“With less than 2% of the world’s car output and with no British-made large commercial aircraft, we cannot expect much UK influence on standards or policy in either automotive or aerospace.”

As Reuters reports, the British people are scheduled to vote in a referendum on whether to leave the EU in 2017. However, the vote will only go ahead if the Conservative Party holds power in next year’s general election. No other major party is committed to a referendum on EU membership.

 Most opinion polls show that opinion is divided fairly evenly on the issue.

But, according to Stein, it would be better to remain part of Europe and push for reform of the EU.

“If we don’t like some aspects of the EU, let us try to change them from within. Make Europe work for us, don’t walk away from it,” Stein said.

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