THREE-QUARTERS of IChemE members in the UK intend to vote to remain in the EU in the country’s forthcoming referendum on EU membership, according to a new survey.
Over 1,000 UK chemical engineers took part in the IChemE survey to express opinions on the binding referendum on 23 June as to whether the UK should remain a member of the EU or leave it. The survey revealed that 23% of respondents would vote to leave, and just 2% said they are undecided, or would abstain from voting.
The majority of respondents believed a UK exit of the EU (dubbed ‘Brexit’ for British exit) would have a negative impact on their industries, with particular areas of concern being international collaboration brought by the EU’s freedom of movement, investment to UK companies, and research funding from the funding council Horizon 2020.
The results by sector show strong support for remaining in the EU is evident across many sectors, including upstream oil and gas (70%), downstream chemicals (71%), power generation (76%) and higher education (88%).
A female student in her early twenties, studying in North East England, said: “As a student graduating this year, it would limit my possibilities as many of the larger companies operate across Europe and it helps to be able to work across those locations really easily.”
The results by UK regions show that respondents from the East of England were most likely to stay in the EU with 76% intending to vote remain. Yorkshire was the region most in favour to exit with 43% intending to vote leave.
The more Eurosceptic respondents argued that leaving the EU will attract more investment to UK businesses, while still being able to access the single market from the outside. They said EU legislation is too strict to allow UK business to succeed at full potential and interferes with the UK policy making process that would allow the UK to be self-sufficient, rather than relying on imported infrastructures such as energy.
A male in his late forties, working for a London-based process engineering contractor, said: “You only have to look at the disaster that is UK power generation to conclude that we are better out of the EU, where we can control our own destiny.”
IChemE has stated that although a majority of its members currently support remaining in the EU, the institution will remain neutral in the referendum debate.
“Whatever the referendum result, we will continue to support our 44,000 members who collaborate and network across more than 120 countries,” said Andy Furlong, IChemE director of communications.
Support for remaining in the EU also extends to UK chemical firms, and 17 major chemical engineering employers. Several UK research and development companies have given evidence to the House of Lords regarding the mutually beneficial relationship with the EU.
The full breakdown of results can viewed on the IChemE website.
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