October 25, 2016

Boss at tyre giant Bridgestone says Britain leaving EU ‘viable’ and vows to keep firm here

A TOP boss at the world’s biggest tyre firm has said Britain leaving the EU is “viable” and that the company will keep trading here in the event of an ‘out’ vote.

Bridgestone’s Robin Shaw, managing director for North Europe, told Express.co.uk that while staying in the Union is his preference leaving “is an option too”.

He has vowed that the rubber giant will stay in Britain whatever the result, despite frequent claims from pro-Europe campaigners that an ‘out’ vote would cause a mass exodus of businesses.

It comes just days after car manufacturer Toyota vowed to keep their assembly plant in Derbyshire running for at least 75 years – a move which Brexit campaigners say exposed the “lies” of europhiles.

Along with its engine plant in Deeside, North Wales, the leading brand employs close to 4,000 people in the UK.

Speaking at the launch of Bridgestone’s new DriveGuard tyres in Cannes, Mr Shaw told Express.co.uk “I’m concerned very much about the instability and the questions that the EU debate causes.

He added: “I could see that we would continue trading as long as it’s handled well.”

But the businessman, who took the helm at the Japanese multinational in 2014 after years at electronics giant Bosch, admitted: “As a business, my view is that we’re better off staying within Europe.

“It does make a lot of things easier for us, more consistent and being a European based company. Life’s a lot simpler.”

Mr Shaw is the latest voice in a growing chorus of corporate leaders to acknowledge the potential success of a British exit from the EU.

The Vote Leave campaign has reportedly received significant financial backing from former Tory treasurer and banker Peter Cruddas.

JML tycoon John Mills and spread betting multimillionaire Stuart Wheeler are also thought to have given major donations to the cause.

Earlier this month a survey revealed that business support for Britain’s membership of the EU had fallen dramatically.

Deloitte said “unqualified” EU support among financial bosses at leading UK companies dropped to 62 per cent from 74 per cent.

Around 28 per cent claimed they were awaiting the outcome of the Prime Minister’s renegotiation with Brussels bosses before making up their mind while just 6 per cent felt UK businesses would benefit from leaving the union.

Mr Cameron’s renegotiation is entering a crucial phase ahead of a key EU summit in February where a deal could be reached.

“This mirrors what we have seen from the broader public in opinion polls in the last six months.

“With around one third of CFOs undecided on their position or awaiting the outcome of renegotiation discussions, the eventual deal may well significantly affect business attitudes to EU membership.”

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