West Midlands based businesses were given the opportunity to ask EU referendum questions to two big names last week in a lively and interactive debate. 

Douglas Flint from Banking giant HSBC joined forces with Labour MEP Neena Gill, to answer tough questions on the EU from an audience of regional business, finance, and industry experts.

Douglas said:  "HSBC's economic research is very clear about the advantages of Britain being at the heart of a reformed EU.”

He went to tell on the audience of regional businesses that: “Important and unquantifiable risks arise from the potential impact on our customers of a vote to leave. We believe that the UK would enter a period of great economic uncertainty and should the UK economy slow and economic conditions deteriorate as our research suggests, in at least the short to medium term, this would affect many of our customers in the UK and the economic environment we operate in." 

Neena Gill, Member of the European Parliament for the region also spoke about her fears for the future if Britain voted for a Brexit. Neena said:  “Birmingham was once the land of the industrial revolution – advancing the UK’s textiles industry, metals manufacturing and railway capabilities. And today, Birmingham is the hub of specialist service providers, first-class university education, retail, the arts and technology of the future thanks in part to EU direct investment.

“We are living in a smaller world now with the advances in technology and the ability to trade with our European neighbours with ease. For SMEs alone 61% of UK small business exports go to the EU. We need the EU in order for the 400,000 businesses in the West Midlands to keep trading and growing so we can protect jobs.”

Neena added: “It is important we have a thriving business and financial sector in Birmingham, and the EU secures this. From to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, to the IMF, the IFS, and the OECD – one clear message is being concluded:  the UK needs to remain a member of the EU if we want a thriving business and financial economy.”

HSBC Chairman Douglas Flint was invited by Ms Gill to meet with business leaders and politicians in Birmingham on Friday 3rd June to discuss why he is supporting an IN vote for the EU referendum on Thursday 23rd June.