Debate helps Lowestoft business leaders make up their minds

Lowestoft EU debate with Lowestoft chamber of commerce and the EADTPHOTO: Nick Butcher

Lowestoft EU debate with Lowestoft chamber of commerce and the EADTPHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

Amid the confusion of claims and counter-claims by the leave and remain sides in the EU referendum campaign, it can perhaps be difficult for the average person to decide which way to vote.

Lowestoft EU debate with Lowestoft chamber of commerce and the EADT.Richard Hope (leave)PHOTO: Nick

Lowestoft EU debate with Lowestoft chamber of commerce and the EADT.Richard Hope (leave)PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

But a debate organised by Archant, publishers of The Journal, and the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce appeared to help business people make up their minds.

A poll taken at the start of the event at Lowestoft's Hotel Victoria on Tuesday (June 7), sponsored by Parker Communications, showed the remain and leave campaigns almost neck-and-neck, with 30 per cent favouring remain and 32 per centwanting to leave.

However 38 per cent were still undecided.

Yet after hearing points made by former Labour campaigner Kate Godfrey, speaking for Stronger In, and Bury St Edmunds businessman Richard Hope, representing the out campaign, most had made a decision about which way they would vote on June 23 - with just eight per cent still unsure.

Lowestoft EU debate with Lowestoft chamber of commerce and the EADT. Kate Godfrey (remain)PHOTO: Nic

Lowestoft EU debate with Lowestoft chamber of commerce and the EADT. Kate Godfrey (remain)PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher


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In the end it was the remain side which won, with 49 per cent to the leave campaign's 43 per cent - but depending on how those undecided choose to vote, indications are that the final result will be close.

Passionate points were made by both speakers in a debate moderated by BBC Radio Suffolk's Terry Baxter, with Miss Godfrey saying: 'While we're at a time of uncertainty,

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this is the point that it's most important to remain at the top table in Europe.

'If we do come out, the advantages are simply not there. Fundamentally, this is about British prosperity - it's our jobs and the opportunities for our children.

'The principle of prosperity is far too great to put at risk.'

Mr Hope said coming out is a 'long-term, strategic decision for the future of our country'.

He added: 'I love Europe and European culture. However I believe the EU is a corporate organisation not fit for purpose.

'Despite the scaremongering, we'll continue to trade very successfully with the members of the EU. If we vote to leave we'll have a far more dynamic, outward-looking economy.'

Lowestoft and Waveney Chamber of Commerce chairman James Reeder said afterwards that the two speakers' friendly and professional nature set an excellent tone for the debate.

But there were still strong disagreements - while Mr Hope said the UK was unable to control its borders, Miss Godfrey said free movement of people worked both ways.

Chamber of Commerce members from Lowestoft and Waveney also had strong views, with well-known businessman Peter Colby saying: 'We're a member of a European club which we pay £10billion a year to and which is generally felt is declining.'

But Colin Butler, a ship surveyor and draughtsman from Wayne Close, Lowestoft, criticised Boris Johnson for trying to deprive future generations of the chance to work in Europe.

Do you think the UK should leave the EU or stay in? Write, giving your full contact details, to: Journal Postbox, 147 London Road North, Lowestoft NR32 1NB or email andrew.papworth@archant.co.uk

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