Three reasons why the JCB chairman may think Brexit is nothing to fear

Lord Anthony Bamford said the UK could exist 'peacefully and sensibly' on its own

Hazel Sheffield
Monday 18 May 2015 13:09
David Cameron with Sir Anthony Bamford, owner of JCB
David Cameron with Sir Anthony Bamford, owner of JCB

He will undoubtedly be the first of many to give their verdict on Britain’s relationship with the EU ahead of a referendum promised by David Cameron before the end of 2017.

But today Lord Anthony Bamford made headlines after he said he thought that the UK would be fine without the EU.

"We are the fifth or sixth largest economy in the world. We could exist on our own, peacefully and sensibly," said the head of the family-owned business. He went on to add that split would allow the UK to "negotiate as our own country rather than being one of 28 nations".

Here are some other reasons why Lord Bamford may think Brexit is a good idea:

1. JCB increasingly makes money in the UK, rather than overseas

JCB makes yellow goods, or construction machinery such as diggers and excavators, so it does well when construction increases. JCB’s UK business has jumped 30 per cent in the last year as construction picks up in its home nation.

By contrast it has seen the market in developing countries drop significantly – down 15 per cent in India, 17 per cent in China and Brazil and 27 per cent in Russia.

Good business on home shores means Lord Bamford relies less on his EU neighbours.

2. Leaving the EU would free the UK to make trade agreements with other countries

JCB has seen 13 per cent growth in its US business, according to reports. Negotiations for a free trade agreement with the US called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership have stalled in the face of EU bureaucracy.

The partnership would allow multinational corporations like JCB to trade much more cheaply with the US. And without EU membership, the UK would be free to broker a deal along these lines with less red tape.

3. Lord Bamford is a major Tory donor

The JCB chairman, who intends to pass the helm of the business to his son, Jo Bamford, is a major Tory donor.

He was given a peerage by Cameron in 2013, prompting the Liberal Democrat Lord Oakeshott to comment that giving peerages to donors "pollutes Parliament and political parties that collude with this".

The EU referendum is one of the most pressing issues for businesses since the Conservatives won the election. Bamford's admission supports the further right voices in the Conservative party calling for a split.

A spokesman for JCB declined a request for comment.

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