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Brexit? The major industries that want in — or out — of the EU

Brexit? The major industries that want in—or out—of the EU

Man with a "Vote to Leave" sign in Ramsgate, England, June 13, 2016.
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With just one day to go until the referendum on its European Union membership, it's make-your-mind-up time for people in the U.K.

The fierce debate over whether to stick or fold on the EU has strained relationships across politics and industry. It has even managed to roil global stock markets and significantly weakened the country's currency.

Meanwhile, different business groups in the U.K. have been deliberating and trying to gauge the mood within their sectors. CNBC highlights just some of these voices ahead of the vote.


The financial district in London.
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The U.K. banking sector believes Brexit would have a "negative impact" on their business, according to the BBA, a trade association that calls itself the "voice of banking."

A survey of 147 banks - with just over 50 percent responding – showed there is almost no appetite from banks for the U.K. to leave the EU, it said in a press release in March.


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Forty-seven percent of U.K. builders said their business would benefit more from being outside the EU, with 33 percent stating that remaining would be of greater benefit.

This comes from the National Federation of Builders which asked a panel of 100 members whether they would like to remain in the EU.

Car making

An employee walks past a Ford logo at a Ford factory in Dagenham, England.
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The voice of the U.K. motor industry, SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders), say 77 percent of its members believe remaining in Europe is best for their business. The majority of firms also say a Brexit would have a negative impact on their business.

The results are form a 2016 survey by independent pollster ComRes, carried out over a five-week period in January and February, which asked 204 members.


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Fishing is seen by many as prominent loser due to EU policy, with the island nation having to share quotas with other member states. However, the U.K's National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations is actually keeping shtum on the topic.

Instead, it has provided a platform to both sides to explain the merits of each case. pro-Brexit voices speak in damning terms about the quotas, suggesting it's a reason why catches are sometimes wastefully discarded, while pro-remain voices say there are no longer any excessive quotas and widespread illegal fishing.


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The British Retail Consortium is another trade association staying neutral on the debate. It states that continued access to the EU's "single market" is critically important for retail, but suggests that it would be difficult for the country to leave the EU and remain part of that market.

"The view of individual retailers on the U.K.'s membership of the EU will ultimately depend on their assessment of whether staying in a reformed EU or leaving it will provide better access to competitive retail markets in Europe and elsewhere," the research said.


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"Our analysis suggests that Brexit would have a longer-term adverse effect on the legal sector, despite a possible short-term surge of work for solicitors to unravel the legal complexities of a changing relationship with the EU, " Jonathan Smithers, the president of the Law Society - a representative body for solicitors in England and Wales - told CNBC via email.

The society says it has "not taken a position" on the referendum as it admits that solicitors' views are diverse and influenced by many factors that go beyond the implications of EU membership or a Brexit.


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Farming was at the center of a famous spat between the European Union and Margaret Thatcher, who won a rebate in 1984 after she threatened to halt payments to the EU budget.

Today, the National Farmers' Union (NFU), an industry association for farmers in England and Wales, says that it's impossible to measure the impact of being outside the EU due to the unknown relationship it would have with the bloc. In its wide-ranging research for its members it noted that the amount of money that the U.K. is entitled to through the rebate has "declined dramatically over the last few years."

Oil and gas

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The trade association, Oil & Gas U.K., might be keeping its own counsel but big oil has had its say in the referendum debate. BP chief Bob Dudley told the BBC that investment in the U.K. energy sector could suffer if Britain were to leave the European Union.

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive of Royal Dutch Shell, Ben van Beurden, warned that the oil and gas company would be negatively impacted were Britons to back leaving the EU, according to the Sunday Times newspaper.


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A poll of 277 tech business leaders, 75 percent of whom represent small to medium-sized businesses, showed 70 percent supported the U.K. remaining in the EU. Reasons included the belief that it would make the U.K. more attractive to international investment, more globally competitive and would give the U.K. a better deal in trading relationships with the EU.

The survey comes from the trade association of tech companies in the U.K, called techUK.


Eden Hazard of Chelsea is closed down by N'Golo Kante of Leicester City during a Barclays Premier League match at Stamford Bridge on May 15, 2016 in London.
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The boss of the English Premier League (EPL), Richard Scudamore, has told the BBC that both himself and the 20 member clubs of the league believe Britain should remain in the European Union.

He criticized the view that Britain could leave the EU to try to "take control of its own destiny" and told the broadcaster that the success of the EPL was based on being open to the world.