LAST year I used this column to ask if there were any bosses out there who believed that we should sever ties with the European Union.

I have yet to hear a compelling argument from someone whose view I respect that we should pull out of the EU.

Yesterday the Ebac dehumidifier factory on Aycliffe Business Park played host to a small band of businesses leaders who feel that the EU is hindering rather than helping them.

The 20 regional signatories to the Business for Britain campaign include the boss of a Northumberland golf course, the Tory MP for Berwick Upon Tweed, hereditary peer Viscount Ridley, a Durham University academic, and some people from the PR world.

Their launch event was accompanied by a YouGov survey that said 25 per cent of small businesses think the EU is making it harder for their business to employ people and hinders their operations. So that means a whopping 75 per cent think the EU is good for them or makes no difference.

As if their unimpressive statistics weren’t enough the group also chucked in a few bizarre comparisons, such as did you know that the North-East sends £496m to the EU, which is six times the cost of the new Cramlington Specialist Emergency Care Hospital which opened in June 2015?

My view is that if we left the EU investment would fall and jobs would be jeopardised as foreign companies such as Nissan and Hitachi who use the North-East as a launch-pad to enter EU markets will shift activities across the Channel.

Most EU citizens coming to the UK are young, skilled and come here to work or study. About 32 per cent of recent arrivals have university degrees compared with 21 per cent of our native population.

Exports are vital to the success of the North-East economy. Nearly half of the region's overseas trade is done with members of the EU, supporting an estimated 170,000 North-East jobs.

Staying within the union and working to make it even better is the only option. All of the alternatives are – like the Business for Britain campaign - a complete non starter.

THE recent floods have caused no end of chaos across our region. Yesterday morning they hit my dad’s village Lanchester so I phoned him to make sure his bungalow had survived the deluge. Asked if he was managing to cope my dad’s reply summed up his stoic and typically northeastern response to the situation. “There is plenty of sausage and black pudding in the fridge so I’ve got everything I need,” he said. Crisis, what crisis?

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