Forman & Son MD Lance Forman wants to leap out of Europe


- Credit: Carmen Valino - on shift

I was in a meeting with a group of European entrepreneurs recently and we took a straw poll on whether we thought voters would choose to stay in Europe or vote out.

Seventy per cent thought we would stay. When I asked why they said, because of fear – “British people are very conservative and cautious and they fear the consequences of change”.

As it happens, I disagreed. Yes, British people can be set in their ways, but Britain has changed so fast, I think British caution will lead them to vote out, to prevent further changes.

As far as I can see, the only case made by the inners which has gained traction is fear and threats of a crisis if we leave. This strategy will ultimately backfire as people become more used to the idea of threats in the days until June 23 and will grow less fearful.

We hear statistics that Britain will lose this many jobs and that many contracts, that our economy will shrink, cheap travel will disappear, and so on. The fact is, no one knows. And even when we have made that decision, we won’t ever know what might have happened if we had voted the other way.

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Between 1998 and 2003 Forman’s smoked salmon business suffered three major catastrophes, each one threatening our very existence.

We had a fire, followed two years later by a flood, and then three years later by a compulsory purchase order. In each of these three crises we were able to find the silver lining under the cloud and make the massive upheaval work to our advantage. Big change forces you to do that.

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Without change you just carry on doing what you’ve always done and rarely take the opportunity to step back and re-evaluate. This is what has happened to Britain in Europe. Bit by bit, we have sleepwalked into a situation where our powers have ebbed away, the benefits are no longer worth the costs and the “club’s” prospects aren’t as rosy as the picture painted. The very fact that there were calls for a referendum is evidence of this.

Britain now remains diminished in a Europe which cares little for the individual interests. Britain leaving Europe is an amazing prospect. With the right enterprising leadership, voting to leave could be one of the best opportunities Britain has had for decades.

Salmon spend their lives in the darkness of the rivers and oceans, and they leap into the light. Leaving the EU is not a leap into the dark, as Cameron claims, it is a leap out of it. Let’s leap, not sleep. More from Lance

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