IT’S no secret that I’ve been an advocate of leaving the European Union, and I’ve no doubt that we will look back in a couple of years and see that it was the right course for the UK to take.

Why? Because the EU is conceptually flawed. Imagine having 27 businesses on the same industrial estate, each with their own board of directors – some bigger, some smaller, each with different values. Then you put another board of directors over all of those businesses and try to force them to use the same methodology. It simply wouldn’t work – it’s nonsense.

When the Brexit debate first kicked off, I was invited to a hotel on Tyneside to present the case for leaving. There were 60 business leaders in the room – and 59 of them wanted to remain. I was on my own. These were all successful people, determined to stay in the EU, and yet the ordinary fella on the street wanted to leave. There was a disconnect that I found amazing.

It made me reconsider but I still reached the conclusion that the EU was fundamentally wrong, because running what is tantamount to a superstate is impossible in practical terms, the benefits are debatable, while the bureaucracy and costs are enormous.

That said, if someone gave me the option of staying in the EU but having better politicians in Westminster, I’d jump at it because our own political system is a disaster.

Our performance at Westminster is a bigger problem than the EU by a factor of 100. I wouldn’t have lost one minute’s sleep if we’d stopped in the EU, because it’s a relatively minor problem. It’s just a symptom of a political class that’s desperate to maintain the status quo because it suits them. I’d be much happier to have a better, more competent Westminster, but we won’t get that until we change the system.

Overall, I’m still confident that, ultimately, we’ll be better off out of the EU, even though we were always destined to end up with a bad deal. The EU want us to fail because, if they’d helped us to succeed, they’d be shooting themselves in the foot – that’s obvious – so, we were never going to get a trade agreement until the last minute.

Most of our trade is with the rest of the world anyway and, if the EU makes life difficult, they’ll be the biggest sufferers because there’s nothing we do with them that we can’t do with someone else. We can buy wine from Chile, Australia and New Zealand, and we can get components from Japan, Korea and the USA.

From the point of view of my own company, Ebac, the position on Brexit is neutral. For example, our biggest market for water coolers is France, followed by Italy, then Spain, but I think that will change to America. Whatever happens, the business is robust enough to sort it out, but my personal position will always be that what’s right for the people of this country is more important than what’s right for Ebac. You shouldn’t handicap business, but people have to come first.

• John Elliott is the founder of dehumidifier and washing machine manufacturer Ebac, of Newton Aycliffe