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Investment community backs ‘remain’ at Howard Kennedy sponsored Brexit debate


The investment community voted to remain in the EU last night (Monday 16 May) following a passionate discussion at the ‘Brexit: Pursued by a Bear’ debate chaired and sponsored by law firm Howard Kennedy.

In a close and surprising vote, 56 per cent of attending delegates, drawn from the London investment community, voted to remain with 44 per cent wishing to leave.

The debate at the Merchant Taylors’ Hall in the heart of the City of London, chaired by Howard Kennedy partner Mark Stephens, was co-sponsored by Peterhouse Corporate Finance and accountants Welbeck Associates.

For the first time the question of a “Neverendum” was raised, where neither side win convincingly or with sufficient number of voter turn-out to put the debate to bed once and for all. In doing so, Sir Vince Cable left the door open to a further referendum if Remain lost, but unconvincingly.

Arguing to stay was Sir Vince Cable Economist and former Business Secretary and Sebastian Mallaby, a senior fellow for international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Arguing to leave were Lord Howard Emerson Flight, Chairman of private equity fund Flight & Partners, and Zak Mir of ZaksTraderCafe.           

The debate also included Gervais Williams, managing director of investment fund management company Miton Group plc, who started the evening as yet undecided, and remains so.

Mark Stephens CBE, Partner at Howard Kennedy, says: “The Brexit: Pursued by a Bear debate gave much needed light on the arguments being played out in the media, homes and businesses across the UK, with economic stability and trading strengths playing against loss of sovereignty and control over our borders.

“It was a close call, but on hearing strong arguments from both sides, the vote remain camp carried the motion.”

Stephens adds: “There was, however, common ground in both camps, and that is that the impact Brexit would have on UK stock markets: the uncertainty that would follow would cause markets to slump.”

Lord Howard Emerson Flight, leading the ‘leave’ argument, presented a compelling case asking delegates to support UK entrepreneurs and small businesses – 85 per cent of whom do business only in the UK.

Dr Vince Cable, leading the ‘remain’ argument, reminded delegates that the single market was not the creation of faceless Brussels bureaucrats, but the result of a Conservative government under Margaret Thatcher. “Our liberalised economy,” he said, “is not ham-strung by EU regulation” and that any separation, like a divorce, will be messy.

Zak Mir, in support of Lord Flight and the ‘leave’ camp, argued that the referendum is as much about the future of the Conservative Party as it is about our future in Europe.

And in support of Dr Cable and the ‘remain’ camp, Sebastian Mallaby dispelled some of the more common myths peddled by the official ‘Vote Leave’ campaign.                                                                            

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