Lord Sugar: Why Britain should remain in the EU


I’ve been in business for 50 years. I’ve seen some pretty daft ideas in my time. And I’ll tell you one of them: Britain leaving the EU. I’m constantly being asked by ordinary people to try to explain this EU thing. They are totally confused by the two sides of the argument. So today I want to cut through the nonsense and explain to the readers of the Sun why we must remain in Europe – and why we’d be the mugs of the world if we left.

The young generation might see me as this fellow with his Rolls Royce, flying around in my private jet, and they might think that I am out of touch with the average man in the street. Well, they’re wrong. I am that average man, who, at the age of 17, started my business from a council flat in Hackney.

I bought some stuff, sold it for a profit, bought some more, and went on to manufacture things, selling to my main market: Europe. The rest is history. What I did, anyone can do in this country – you’re free to start from scratch and trade with our European counterparts.

But to do that, like me, you need an economy that is strong and open. I remember prior to us being a member of the EU, trying to move goods around to Europe. It was a bureaucratic nightmare.

When we entered the EU, it was a breath of fresh air for me. It opened up a massive market. I was free to sell to and buy from who I wanted and where I wanted. Honestly, that’s how my companies prospered.

Who knows what would happen if we left? Not a lot of people know that when Americans try to sell cars to the EU they have to pay 10% import duty. It’s unimaginable if we exit the EU and tariffs are introduced on our car exports. I’m sure our Japanese friends who have invested billions in our country and employ tens of thousands of people will have to rethink their location. We don’t want that. Think of all the people employed in car plants here.

The Brexit people will argue no tariffs will be imposed, but they forget to say that, in order to make that happen and exit the EU, we’ll still have to pay in billions to the EU to allow free circulation. So you might ask: why leave? The song “There’s a Hole in my Bucket” comes to mind here.

Now I’m not saying the EU is perfect. But you don’t sort something out by walking out of it. I never got a business deal I wanted by storming out of a boardroom and then expecting them to dance to my tune. The truth is, whatever decisions the Brussels lot take – about trade, national security, whatever – it really matters to us. We need to be there, making Britain’s voice heard. Does anyone seriously think they’d listen to us if we left?

The Brexit mob give us all this rubbish about being like Canada, Norway or Albania. But Canada can’t easily sell things like financial services to the EU. So that’s no good for us. Norway pays as much into Europe per head as we do, accepts more EU migrants, and, get this, has no say or voice over the EU rules. So that’s no good. And don’t even get me started on Albania.

You’ve even got some people saying: “well, Greenland left the EU.” Greenland has a population of 55,000. It only really sells fish. And it took 3 years of uncertainty when they tried to leave. That’s just one industry. Can you imagine trying to wind down agreements on so many other sectors? It could take 10 years.

When I talk to people in the street who are confused over this, some say: “well look, let’s give it a try”. That’s a ridiculous and dangerous attitude. You couldn’t be talking to a bigger gambler than me. I’ve gambled all my life in business. But when it’s the fate of our country you’re being asked to put on the table, I say it’s a gamble too far.

I’m not the only one saying this. You’ve got leading economists, big time business bosses, scientists, politicians – people who are normally at each other’s throats – singing from the same hymn sheet. If you can get them all agreeing on something, that gives you a big clue about how important this all is.

Massive mistake

As for me, I come at this from a neutral perspective. I’m not affiliated to a political party. I’ve got no personal agenda. My only agenda is, is that having lived in Britain for 69 years, a country which I love, I don’t want to see a massive mistake being made by those who simply don’t understand the ramifications of leaving the EU.

People try to dismiss these warnings as Project Fear. I’ll tell you what – this fear isn’t imagined; it’s real. Because this isn’t a general election. We can’t say in 5 years: “oh it didn’t work – we’ll just have another vote”. It’s the most serious vote you’ll probably make in your lifetime. So, for the sake of Britain, I hope you trust me and my instincts, and, on June 23rd, vote to remain.