Poll results: Newham readers want out of EU
- Credit: � Royalty-Free/CORBIS
European Union “bullies” are threatening the future of 850 workers at Tate & Lyle Sugars, according to the North Woolwich firm’s senior vice president.
Gerald Mason says unless the EU ends its “tyranny of the majority” his business, which has been based in the borough for 138 years, would be better off outside of the EU.
And he’s not the only one in Newham sceptical of the EU, as the majority of respondents to a Recorder survey said they wanted to see Britain out of the union.
Mr Mason said rules punish his firm for using sugar cane in order to shelter rival sugar beet farmers from competition.
He added the company, which made £30million last year and has been in Newham since 1878, could back the campaign to leave the EU if it continues to restrict the countries it can import raw sugar from and hamper it with import tariffs.
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“It’s always a fight in Brussels because the majority of sugar producers use beet and we’re one of two countries who use cane,” he said. “Because 19 countries refine sugar from sugar beet, the EU pays around £165million to protect those farmers from competition.
“The EU is the single biggest drag on competitiveness and this lag on sugar will export jobs from our refinery in Silvertown to beat factories in Germany.”
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Gerald says he was a fan of the EU until he began working for Tate & Lyle Sugars 12 years ago when he became disenchanted by its governance.
“I thought it was a big club where we all looked after each other,” he said. “But what I now see is that it’s a club where the majority gets the opportunity to bully the minority.
“It needs to change so Europe can be outward-looking and competitive.”
In our survey of more than 100 residents, nearly 65 per cent said they wanted out of the EU, with almost 32pc voting to remain while 3.5pc said they were unsure.
Gerald’s concerns for business were also reflected by readers, with 47pc saying the EU was “not good for business”, compared with just 38 who said it was while 15pc were unsure.
Anne Cooper, a member of Newham Chamber of Commerce’s executive board, also agrees Britain would be better off out of Europe and cited red tape and the Eurozone as evidence that the union doesn’t work for business.
“They don’t have a clue about finances – look at the mess that is the Euro,” she said. “Too much red tape is hindering jobs, investment and entrepreneurial spirit.”
Voters also rejected the idea of ever closer union among EU countries, with 67pc saying “we’re better apart” and 81pc saying they wanted UK borders to be more secure. A total of 59pc said they thought the UK would be safer from terrorism by leaving the EU.
Anonymous respondents were invited to comment on the EU in a comments section, with one post saying freedom of movement was stretching services.
“Newham suffers the consequences of the negative aspects of the EU more than most parts of the UK,” it read. “Local services are stretched and residents get a worse service than in other parts of the UK because of this.”
Another celebrated Europe as a peace-keeping force.
“I support the EU despite all the nonsense because I am the first male in my family in 102 years who has not had Germans trying to kill him or him trying to kill Germans,” it read.
Of those who took part in the survey, 78.4pc were male and 86pc were over the age of 25.