London, May 25 : Leading NRI entrepreneur Lord Karan Bilimoria has cautioned that the British economy and its international standing would take a “severe blow” if the country votes to leave the EU in the June 23 referendum.
Speaking on the Queen address to the joint session of British Parliament, Bilimoria, 54, said “in spite of my reservations and in spite of being a Eurosceptic, I believe that we should stay in the European Union”.
“Yes, the UK would adapt if we left, but the question is about the short to medium-term consequences: instability, uncertainty and destabilisation. There is no question but that the UK economy and our international standing would take a severe blow should we vote to leave the EU,” he said.
“This is the view held by heads of state, international trading partners, almost every country in the world and critically our closest allies,” Bilimoria said yesterday.
Britain will hold a referendum on membership of the European Union on June 23.
“Indeed, if we left the EU, we would need to renegotiate 50 trade agreements, not least our trade deal with the EU itself. That would not exactly be an easy negotiation with an organisation we had just deserted and, through our actions, possibly permanently destabilised,” he said, making a strong case to remain in the EU.
“Brexiteers talk about how we would be able to sign trade deals quickly with other countries and even talk about relying on the WTO. Well, if the WTO was so great, why were all these trade deals necessary in the first place?
“Trade deals are notoriously tortuous processes and it will not be easy to agree trade deals with other countries, especially as we will be trying to forge trade deals with the very countries which did not want us to leave the European Union in the first place,” Bilimoria said.
The European leaders have categorically said “we want you to be a part of the EU”, he said.
The IMF, Confederation of British Industries and the Bank of England have all urged the UK not to leave.
“I have spoken with professors from Harvard Business School of which I am an alumnus, who have been unanimous in urging the UK to remain in the EU. In fact, they have gone so far as to say, you would be mad to leave,” he said.
“This is about pragmatism and the enormous impact leaving the EU would have on inward investment, international trade, innovation, the strength of our industries and economic growth,” Bilimoria, founder of Cobra Beer, said.
He said if Britain leave the EU, “we would lose a vast amount of research and development funding, threatening something that is already underfunded compared with the EU and OECD averages”.
Almost 1,000 projects at 78 UK universities and research centres benefit from funds from the European Research Council.
“We also stand to lose the strong collaboration that currently exists between British and European universities,” Bilimoria added. (PTI)