Tech­nol­ogy sec­tor in call for ref­er­en­dum

Busi­nesses is­sue let­ter de­mand­ing sec­ond vote on Brexit

Yorkshire Post - Business - - FRONT PAGE - Is­mail Mulla BUSI­NESS RE­PORTER @Is­mailMulla

The tech­nol­ogy in­dus­try has la­belled the Brexit process “sham­bolic” and called for a new ref­er­en­dum on Bri­tain’s fu­ture re­la­tion­ship with the Euro­pean Union.

Over 1,000 tech­nol­ogy busi­ness lead­ers from across the coun­try have sub­mit­ted a let­ter to Prime Min­is­ter, Theresa May, claim­ing her With­drawal Agree­ment would not serve the best in­ter­ests of the in­dus­try.

The let­ter, signed by the likes of Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, and Martha Lane Fox, co­founder of Last­, calls on MPs to es­chew the PM’s deal in favour of a ‘Peo­ple’s Vote’ with an op­tion to re­main in the EU.

Mel Kanarek, a founder of tech net­work Sh­effield Dig­i­tal, is one of the sig­na­to­ries of the let­ter.

The York­shire Post that She told the deal on the ta­ble is go­ing to take away ac­cess to tal­ent, mar­kets and fund­ing.

Ms Kanarek added: “I haven’t spo­ken to a sin­gle per­son, who runs or works in a dig­i­tal busi­ness in and around Sh­effield, who thinks it’s a good idea for us to leave the EU.

“The fact that the process has been so sham­bolic and the cur­rent agree­ment that is be­ing put for­ward is so vague and just seems to put us in a worse po­si­tion than we were be­fore, I can’t see how any­one would want it to hap­pen.”

Crit­ics of an­other ref­er­en­dum have ques­tioned whether those that wish to stay in the EU would ac­cept an­other re­sult in favour of Brexit.

Ms Kanarek said: “My per­sonal opin­ion is if we have the op­por­tu­nity to have an­other vote, if we are pro­vided with clear, truth­ful and fac­tual in­for­ma­tion about what the im­pli­ca­tions are, and the coun­try still de­cides to leave, then I think we have to ac­cept that.”

She also ques­tioned how the ini­tial ref­er­en­dum was run.

Ms Kanarek said: “We weren’t given clear in­for­ma­tion about what the choice would in­volve and more and more we’re hear­ing that we were flat out lied to, mis­led and there was il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity around that ref­er­en­dum.

“It surely can­not stand. We have to do this prop­erly. The only way is to give the peo­ple the chance to vote.”

The let­ter was also signed by Stu­art Clarke, direc­tor of Leeds Dig­i­tal Fes­ti­val, who says the cen­tral plank of May’s deal – end­ing free­dom of move­ment – would have a ma­jor im­pact on York­shire’s tech sec­tor.

He said the in­dus­try was fac­ing a skills gap and that many com­pa­nies rely on tal­ent from Europe.

“There’s a lot of tal­ent in Europe we could and should be tap­ping into,” he added.

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