More than 80 tech leaders have joined a campaign to push a people’s vote with an option to remain in the European Union, including some familiar fintech faces.
UK technology, fintech and innovation leaders have signed up as supporters of a new tech business group, Tech For UK, and are petitioning the UK government to back a second vote by the people on the terms of Brexit.
Tech for UK represents founders and executives of many big names in tech, including Deloitte Digital, Samsung and TechCrunch, but also some fintech favourites: Giles Andrews, co-founder and chairman at peer-to-peer lender Zopa and the soon-to-be former CEO of Tide Bank George Bevis, to name but a few.
The group believes that the government has not done enough to reassure tech firms that they will be able to access equivalent funding in a post-Brexit environment, when the loss of funding from the European Investment Fund and other major EU institutions starts to hit.
Mike Butcher, editor at large for TechCrunch and Tech For UK, commented: “The loss of access to European funds, the flight of talent which powers UK tech companies due to the uncertainty and scandal around immigration, the loss of access to the Digital Single Market, which was never consulted over — all of these factors are adversely affecting the UK Tech industry.
"It’s time the people had the chance for a meaningful vote, or through parliament, on the terms of Brexit.”
The UK’s tech sector has seen considerable and consistent growth in recent years, employing more than 2m people and attracting billions in foreign investment. Last month, fintech trade body Innovate Finance released a report which showed that the UK fintech sector is highly dependent on global talent, with 42 per cent of its estimated 76,500 employees coming from outside the UK. The body expects a potential loss of £361m to UK fintech as a result of the impending Brexit skill shortage.
“Many of the most exciting start-up businesses here have been founded by immigrant entrepreneurs and grown with UK and European employees joining the companies as they grow rapidly,” said Simon Murdoch, managing partner at Episode 1 Ventures. “Any Brexit which does not keep the UK in the single market and customs union would in my view considerably dampen the prospects for tech start-ups here in the UK - there would be less of them and they would find it harder to grow as rapidly.”
According to Tech For UK, its supporters have collectively raised hundreds of millions of pounds, put similar amounts back in the UK economy and employed thousands of highly-skilled talent from across the world. The group plans to work closely with fellow Brexitlobbying body Best for Britain, which is also campaigning against Brexit and for a “meaningful vote” on its terms, which would include an option to Remain and lead in the EU.
Tide’s Bevis added: "The Brexiteers admit they can't deliver the Brexit they promised so we deserve a vote on the one they've got us instead.”