Jim Doherty: "either EU brings forward reforms or game over"
22 June 2016
We interviewed Jim Doherty, owner and CEO of Doherty Hungary Kft.,
on his opinion about the upcoming Brexit vote. As a British
businessman running a company in the EU, he holds valuable
insight into both sides of the debate.
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You are in a special position now, as a British businessman living in the
EU, developing your company, investing also in the EU. What are your
personal feelings, some days before the voting?
- I feel that the referendum is the right initiative at the right time.
Serious issues relating to the governance of Europe must be debated openly
and Brussels must be accountable for its actions. However I am a little
dismayed at the poor quality of debate and lack of facts available. The
debate in the UK has become emotional (no problem with that) but subjective
too and the politicians on both sides are being rightfully accused of
scaremongering. Perhaps that's all they can do when we can only speculate on
the outcome of a possible Brexit. I see posters on the side of the road from
the leave campaign saying "we want our country back" and I wonder what that
actually means. At what point in history do the leavers want to go back to ?
Is Europe solely accountable for many Brits now wanting their country back
or is the whole world changing in a way which makes the past so much more
attractive ? If that is the case it's a mistake to blame the EU for the
problem, because the solution isn't to leave, it's to reform.
As we are getting closer to the date of voting, it seems - according to
several pre-poll statistics - that the number of leavers is overtaking the
group of those who wants to stay in. Do you see it in the same way? If yes,
what can be the reason of it, and what is your bet about the result?
- I think the leavers are louder than the "remainers" so that it may sound
like a bigger group of people than it actually is. The leavers are making
more progress with their slogans like "we want our country back" and being
anti EU membership in this debate is probably easier than being pro Europe
due to the recent and dramatic demographic changes across Europe. Yes the
Polls are indicating a swing towards the leave campaign but all the betting
shops (you did ask about my bet) indicate between 55% and 65% in favour of
remain. I agree with betting shops ! We will remain.
What is the main goal for leaving the EU? Could it be better outside than
inside for such a country like the UK?
- I think the main goal is control. Control of the British legal system and
control of our borders and migration. Really these are the main points.
Britain wants to be able to control its own destiny and not be ruled by
Europe. To the second part of your question I say nobody really knows. If
Britain can govern itself and still trade with Europe (which is hopefully
not damaged by Brexit) then I guess the goal will have been achieved.
None of the EU-opinions in connection with the leaving of the UK are
optimistic. Is it truly a dangerous, dreadful future for the continent to
let the UK be free?
- If Britain leaves the EU and doesn't fail afterwards then every other
country will question the European model. When that happens I think it could
be game-over for the EU. My hope is that the EU will reform itself before
that happens and the benefits of being a member of a bigger state should
become more apparent. It will need to be real and fundamental reform, well
communicated, not just political gloss.
What would be the effects of Brexit to the Hungarian automotive industry?
- Very little. Of course easy movement of products and services between
European countries is attractive but unless tariffs are introduced I cannot
foresee a negative impact on the Hungarian automotive industry whom have
much greater ties with Germany anyway. This is unless the whole of Europe is
negatively affected by Brexit.
What would be the effects of Brexit to the British automotive industry?
- Every major automotive company with investments in Britain wants to remain
in Europe. In a highly competitive industry any change, increase in
administration costs, possible trade tariffs or having to adjust to the
unknown is highly unattractive.