Britain needs to play a strong role

Julia Gash
Julia Gash
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Julia Gash is boss of Sheffield bag firms Bag It Don’t Bin It and Talented. She once stood for the Lib Dems as an MEP:

“I would vote for them at the next election, primarily for business reasons. I’m a really strong believer that Britain needs to play a central role in Europe, at the heart of negotiations for economic prosperity and stability. More than 50 per cent of Britain’s exports are to the EU. Talented is an export-led initiative, 70 per cent is export and a third is to Europe. S0 25 per cent of total sales are to Europe. Asia is a massive market but a lot of buyers find us in Paris – they don’t come to the UK.

The Lib Dems are the only party who have been consistently strong on Europe. Labour and the Conservatives have mixed views, Labour has to be clear about committing to it.

I’m also very supportive of the free movement of people and goods. I’ve just taken on a Chinese national. It’s been hard and taken months.

A quarter of our buyers are foreign and eight fluent languages are spoken in our companies. You have to protect markets in certain countries but Europe certainly helped my business.

But that’s completely different to illegal immigration and abusing the welfare system and not contributing.

The economy is reliant on migrant labour, especially in the service industry in London and the fields and factories of England.

I campaigned for the euro many years ago and I still believe in it in this country even though it has big problems.

Certain things are not fully worked through, like Greece, but a lot of big Asian buyers want to do business in euros.

In a year’s time the majority of trade by Talented will be in euros and dollars.

Vince Cable has played an integral part in the economic recovery. The Con-Dem coalition got us to where we are and they couldn’t have done it without the Lib Dems.

Vince Cable brings gravitas, he is a central force in British politics and my preference would be for a continuation of the coalition.

Nick Clegg has also played a central role in devolution and moves to rebalance the economy away from the service sector in the South. I’m very fearful of UKIP. A lot of people respond to their gut on immigration and support UKIP.