The EU Referendum is upon us

By Chris Dawson June 20, 2016 - 9:30 am

EU HOmeThis is the week that the country goes to the polling station to voice their opinion on the EU in a referendum to decide if the majority favour staying in the EU or if the general public believes we’d be better off pulling out.

Opinions are widely divided and whilst we’ll obviously be discussing the best way to work with whatever the result may be, we wouldn’t dream of trying to advise you which way to vote – Tamebay isn’t a political blog. There are of course small businesses arguments both for staying in the EU and for leaving.

Remain Case:

It goes without saying that border free trade is a massive advantage, the ability to sell to any of 28 countries with ever more unified trading policies (such as common consumer rights across the EU) makes an awful lot of sense.

We also know that many UK online sellers source products from other EU countries. Being able to do this with a minimum of paperwork and no customs duties to pay is an advantage. The more product and service regulations harmonised across the EU in theory the easier it is to do business with other EU countries.

It appears likely that the marketplace platforms we trade on would probably find it easier if the UK stayed in the EU. I have less concern for marketplaces however as companies such as eBay and Amazon are certainly big enough to foot the cost of any changes if we did vote to leave.

Leave Case

Just as there are arguments for remaining in the EU, there are plenty of reasons to think that leaving the EU would be desirable. One obvious reason for leaving is that the amount of red tape spewing from the EU causes a higher burden on small businesses in comparison to larger companies. Small businesses have fewer resources and personal to comply with the EU edicts.

A case in point was the VAT MOSS fiasco which required every business no matter how small to register to collect VAT if they sold even on digital download to an EU country. In the end HRMC decided that although the EU told you you had to register, that for VAT purposes HMRC didn’t want to class you as a business (even though they’d quite rightly class you as a business for your income tax!). Likewise the Cookie law was a waste of everyone’s time.

Even with a “Leave” vote would we quit the EU?

We should remember that the referendum is not a legally binding decision, but a statement of preference from the populace to our elected government.

It appears quite unlikely that enough MPs would vote to pass legislation to leave the EU even if the government were to introduce the necessary bills to do so. Certainly nothing will change the day after the referendum or even in the near future. It would take years to disentangle the country from the EU and even under Article 50 it would take two years before the UK left the EU.

What may happen this week is a vote for the status quo and we can all get back to work happily trading across the EU and simply wait to see what the next round of EU directives bring and assess if they are helpful or unhelpful to marketplace traders. The alternative is a possibly prolonged bout of uncertainty as we wait to see what trading relationship we end up with when selling to our European neighbours.

We have faith in small businesses

What we do know is that over the past decade or so both Dan and I have met hundreds (probably thousands) of small businesses and you are remarkably innovative and agile. We also know that cross border trade started on eBay over two decades ago both within the EU and across the entire planet.

Whatever the referendum result and regardless of what change staying in the EU or leaving the EU brings, by and large small businesses will flourish and are probably more likely to embrace any changes better than some of the larger businesses in the country.

  • 1 year ago

    if you want to stop the subsidy of posted sales from china that undermines many of our uk sales efforts – then vote OUT

    the deal was ‘brokered’ by the UN – and will have been arranged with the EU – not us

    as a result we pay others to undermine ourselves

    your elected (un)representatives at westminster and brussels can’t do anything about it in current circumstances – even if they wish to

    time for a sharp brexit!

    • Stuart
      1 year ago

      This deal would stay in place if we were in or out, it’s because China is still classed as a third world country. America have the same issue and are not in the EU.

    • James H
      1 year ago

      Oh come on. The Brexiter rhetoric of “blame everything on Europe” is everywhere else on the internet. Why aren’t we allowed to do the same here?

  • 1 year ago

    to follow VAT MOSS

    the EU will soon announce a single europoean tax reference

    call that the status quo?

    it seems we have little idea of the real EU status quo and that’s how the politicoes would have it

  • Ross
    1 year ago

    Good article.
    As far as small traders with any kind of business with any of the other member states, I can’t see how you could vote leave.

    The Vatmoss was a debacle but there seemed to be some fault with HMRC who ignored initial advice on the impact it would have. Once they realised that, thresholds were introduced.

    Interesting point on cookie legislation. I wonder how different the UK government alone would have handled that and if there would have been conflict with EU and the rest of the world. Pause for thought fur future legislation. Do we have any legislators who understand the internet?

    As for wider issues, the best and most influential courier company in the UK at the moment is the German state’s DPD. I can’t see them leaving but Brexit could end up making it difficult for them and other couriers leaving us with less choice and higher prices.

    Changes in border trade could lead to more red tape, not less. A different agreement with countries around the world could open up massive problems for deliveries.

    The more general arguments fur leaving don’t ring true to me. Democracy, the EU structure is more democratic than the British government and a good check on it.
    Sovereignty; faceless bureaucrats end up legislating whatever we do. With the EU we have a veto that mostly doesn’t get used because our faceless bureaucrats agree with the legislation.
    The economy; on paper we send a lot of money to the EU that we don’t get back in money but most businesses know that they invest in one way and get back in another. Starbucks must waste fortunes a day on paper cups but they wouldn’t sell as much coffee if they didn’t use them.

    • 1 year ago

      you’ve fallen for it

      the ec threatens VATMOSS – then introduces thresholds that (you think) protect you

      you are now a vested interest in their unaccountable system

      you depend upon them

      the ec / eu depends upon may of these ‘rights’ – the biggest collection of which adds up to the CAP swindle – paid for by excessive food prices and surpluses being dumped upon the third world

      the payees are the less well off our consumers and the 3rd world economies & societies

      no thanks – free trade will do

    • Gerard
      1 year ago

      If we let the EU in then before you know it we’ll be dropping capital letters for proper nouns!

    • Ross
      1 year ago

      Sticking to VATMOSS there’s nothing to say the UK wouldn’t have introduced it anyway. Given we’d be trading with other European countries it’s highly likely it would have been adopted as it is now.
      With the rise of internet trading the borders are disappearing, separation seems to be an inward looking ideal.
      A post Brexit UK would spend most of its time copying new EU legslation as far as international trade goes.
      Let’s be in, have influence and a say in the laws and trade regulations of a global economy.

  • 1 year ago

    I’ll vote leave do not see any advantage in staying. They’re not what I voted for all those years ago, just load of unelected jobs worths on salaries that set them up for life.

    • Gerard
      1 year ago

      They’re only unelected if you don’t vote in EU elections. They’re only jobs worths if, like Farage, they don’t bother turning up. They only have salaries setting them up for life if you completely fabricate tub-thumping soundbites (MEP salary=£74,544 p.a, MP salary=£74,962). As for all the unelected upper EU chambers, well frankly they’re elected by the people we vote for either through being nominated by our directly elected leader (e.g. Cameron) or by being our directly elected leader (e.g. Cameron). Do you want to directly elect all the UK ambassadors? All the UK civil servants? The UK House of Lords? Actually, that last one would be pretty good if we could vote for it. I hate it when unelected jobs worths on salaries that set them up for life have a direct say in the laws of my country!

    • Ross
      1 year ago

      Indeed. A lot of this unelected rhetoric dates back from when we appointed two commissioners, in the days of Leon Brittan and Neil Kinnock.
      Half the population seem to think Kinnock is still there. He left 12 years ago, ironically to become a Life Peer in the House of Lords.

      The EU set up is more democratic than British government with more checks.

  • Gary
    1 year ago

    UK retailers selling to the UK are better off if we stay. Leave and UK customers will have less spending money in their pockets and the pound plummets so the price of imported wholesale goods will rise squeezing margins. UK retailers who sell exclusively overseas may believe they could be better off if the pound plummets as goods for sale will be more attractively priced however the increased costs of the imported goods could offset this potential gain so may not be a win situation. Also for all the talk of tariffs if the UK leaves wonder how this might impact online sales? So for me it is a stay but I can see how others would benefit from a leave depending on your line of business.

  • SAM
    1 year ago

    All I know is I have a Royal Mail sack of sales going off to the EU and two going to the UK. Margin wise that one sack going to the EU makes me a lot more money than the two UK ones, I simply fetch a better price in say Spain Italy or Germany.
    I think it is essential we remain in the single market without interruption for e traders. I buy most my stock in the UK and sell on all the main EU sites both on Amazon and eBay. My website also has more customers from the EU and ROW the world than the UK.
    I had all this 2 years ago with the Scottish referendum and had no idea what was going to happen on the Friday after the vote, it was all as clear as mud.
    I think what is important here is to understand the world will not end on Friday as all the Panic mongers and press will be going wild if it is a leave vote, and just keep trading and plan for a life without the single market. I have 0 trust in the Politicians to deliver trade deals in a timely manner and any trade deals they negotiate will not be for the benefit of SME’s.
    I will vote to remain in, and not really on the single market question I see my business’s future in the EU more than the UK and want all the benefits that come with being a EU member state.

  • Alan
    1 year ago

    Does anyone think a “no ” vote would result in our leaving? It’s not binding on anyone. Would the next government be prepared to introduce exit legilation? It would take years. Would MPs agree to approve it? House of Lords? No – it’s not going to happen regardless of what the vote is.

  • Martin
    1 year ago

    From a business perspective life is so easy right now. I buy most of my stock from within the EU, and ship about 25% of sales there. Why change that? And I do believe in 8-10 years time we would see leaving the EU as one of the craziest things we ever did as a nation, with London no longer the European financial capital, with our car manufacturers and pharma companies putting new facilities elsewhere in the EU rather than investing further in the UK. Every bit of the wealth we lose will impact us all in our business and our personal lives. But this isn’t just about business.

    I want my children and grandchildren to live in a country with the fantastic freedom of movement and action we have had as an EU member, where as a nation we are tolerant and generous, where we are outward looking with a vibrant economy and society, and where we share this with as many other nations as possible. My generation has never had to go to war, and we should never underestimate the peace we have been fortunate to enjoy. Europe is now a better place, and we need to build every link that continues to make it so for the future.

  • Andy R
    1 year ago

    What you need to do is separate the politics out from the trade in the EU.

    But of course, you can’t.

    Which is why it’s a difficult decision.

    Getting out will be messy, prolonged and will probably make life difficult for business in the short term.

    Staying in means swallowing whatever the EU throws at us in the coming years, however unpalatable.

    Of course, the EU could solve the problem for us by collapsing of its own accord.

  • Sam O'levski
    1 year ago

    Despite my love of free trade and cheap goods, I’ll vote leave purely to let the government know how angry I am that I was never asked if I wanted half the world to be allowed to enter my country whenever they felt like it, by fair means or foul.
    Despite the fact my ancestors (And those of many other tamebay contributors) fought in order to do their ‘duty’ to their country, multitudes of cowards are being allowed/welcomed in.
    If you don’t understand what I mean, just ask those living in areas with refugees, how many of the men aged 20-45 have war wounds, and how many never saw battle because they ran away like cowards….. yet still they are permitted to enter a country which is free because of the efforts and sacrifices of those who never ran away.
    How about we force those idle Brits who are sitting on their bottoms all day, to do whatever job is available, before they are given any money to go to the bookies and off licence with ?
    I live in a smallish community, where there are plenty of able bodied people unwilling to work, yet in many cases, workers from Romania, Hungary etc are doing those jobs, paying taxes (some of which support the workshy), and also sending money to family abroad (In a small town it’s easy to know how often the post office send via moneygram for example).
    If the lazy were forced to work, we’d save on benefit payments and probably save a bit on healthcare as the workers would be healthier overall.
    in addition, working Brits would spend their money locally rather than sending it overseas, thus helping many local uk economies.

    • Martin
      1 year ago

      Actually, you were asked, at every election. Policy on refugees varies noticeably between parties.

      Just think yourself lucky you weren’t born into African style poverty, in a relatively lawless society, where there is no safety or security, precious little education, and precious little hope.

      Britain’s record on refugees is actually not great at the moment and is shamed by the generosity of some other nations.

      The EU debate has absolutely nothing to do with refugee immigration, and this world problem will exist whether we are in or out.

  • Barry Buckley
    1 year ago


    I’m voting leave, just so PayPal get whats coming to them, they have closed thousands of small business down for no good reason, even If you report them to the financial ombudsman service and win they just hide behind some shitty little office in Luxembourg, you have to complain to Luxembourg and take them to court there, where as if we leave the eu they will have to be fully regulated in the uk, just like turkey wanted them to do something to do business in there country they didn’t like it so they left, id be happy if they did the same in uk once the fos properly regulates them but I highly doubt it a bunch of criminals and muppets

    • Martin
      1 year ago

      Really? Take a decision that will affect everyone’s lives, and the future of this country, one way or the other, based on a desire to get back at Paypal? Way to go….

    • Barry Buckley
      1 year ago


      there a bunch of idiots that need sorting out and putting in there place, they have ruined loads of lives by doing this

      oh and theres the fact that every corner theres illegal immigrants etc

    • Martin
      1 year ago

      That is very sad.

      The rights and wrongs of Paypal are really a totally minor issue compared with the huge impact of whatever decision we go with in the referendum.

      There is no suggestion that leaving the EU will affect regulation of Paypal.

      And Turkeys clever action with Paypal has actually shut down internet business with Turkey. Really not helpful or solving anything at all.

      Leaving the EU will have zero impact on refugees, asylum seekers and illegal immigrants. They will still want to get here, and still come. In or out of the EU with have legal international obligations on how we treat refugees and asylum seekers, which the referendum will not change in any way. These obligations are controlled by long standing UN agreements, nothing to do with the EU at all. Fortunately because we are a civilised country we abide by our international obligations.

    • Barry Buckley
      1 year ago

      Your wrong it will have a major impact on PayPal the uk leaving the eu, because when there is problem they hide behind there office in Luxembourg, when we leave the eu PayPal will have to be fully regulated by the financial ombudsman service ( at this moment they are only partially regulated by the fos due to there main office being in Luxembourg)

      I spoke to the fos on this 2 years ago and they confirmed if we leave the eu they will have PayPal fully regulated

      a lot of complaints going in I think

    • Barry Buckley
      1 year ago

      Every vote counts and mine is to LEAVE due to PayPal and only PayPal otherwise couldn’t care less weather we stayed or not.

      I have never voted and never will ever again but I will just to piss PayPal off that one little bit

      hopefully they will leave the uk when we leave the eu

    • Martin
      1 year ago

      The point I was making is that even if we do leave, the only way the regulators can be involved is if UK law tells them Paypal have acted wrongly. I don’t know the history or the issue. All I am saying is if the law doesn’t change or there is nothing they contravene it will have no effect. In the main companies the size of Paypal make sure they comply with the letter of the law. Hence all their lengthy and depressing terms and conditions.

    • james
      1 year ago

      wow that is some of the stupidest logic i’ve ever heard. please continue not to vote, you’re obviously doing the rest of us a favour with that attitude.
      people literally died so the common man could have the vote.
      women literally died so they could join in.
      wars are fought for this.
      and you waste yours to (fail completely in an idiotic attempt to) get back at paypal.
      seriously, you sound like a 4-year old throwing a tantrum. grow up.

      I was previously undecided, I’ve just decided to stay, only to p**s off Barry.

  • Steve
    1 year ago

    The biggest risk is staying in the EU its a true financial and political mess that his hidden from the main stream news in the UK if we stay in get ready for home tough years ahead

    • Martin
      1 year ago

      Don’t dis the UK. We have one of the strongest economies in Europe, growing better and developing better than almost all others. With sensible management it will continue to be like this if we stay in.

      One of the reasons so many people want to come here is because we are creating jobs, and there are jobs to do, at the same time as unemployment is falling.

    • Trumpton
      1 year ago

      Short term memory. Our economy will take a dip, no doubt, it’s cyclical. The immigrants will go back home for better opportunities, we will be left with a glut of empty houses at sky high prices.

      You can guess the rest

  • 1 year ago

    I voted in the 1975 Referendum to Join the EEC. That was a friendley grouping of like minded European Countries that in the early days was a pleasure to be a Member of. What we have now is a United States of Europe ruled not by an Elected Government but by Unelected Bureaucrats who usually totally ignore the wishes of the European Population. It is no longer a pleasure to be a part of. Indeed for most of the population it is a huge millstone around our necks. So lets vote Leave and get back to being able to make our own decisions.

    It has been suggested that if weleave Europe will put all sorts of barriers including high tarriffs against the UK trading with the EU. Nobody seems to realise that if the EU raises barriers against us then the same barriers will be raised against the EU selling to the UK. Do you really expect that Ford, Volkswagen, Peugeot, Renault, Fiat etc will be happy with that. Their cars and all other European Exports to the UK will be considerably more expensive. They sell about 1.5 times as much to us as we sell to them. So the EU will be worse off than we would. Honda and Nissan manufacture Cars in the UK. So instead of selling to the EU they would be replacing the EU manufactured Cars that we no longer took because of the Tarriffs. So gradually VW, Ford etc would disappear from the UK roads. Just how long do you think that the EU Car Manufacturers would put up with that. They would be in their respective Governments Offices and the EU Offices thumping the desks for the relationship to be ‘normalised’. Its in their interests.

    • Martin
      1 year ago

      Of course we will continue to trade. The question is how easy will it be to trade. We will get agreements, but trade will not be as simple as it is now. That adds costs and inefficiency to business. It is much easier to do business from here than it is from the USA or Canada for example, even though they have trade agreements in place.

      Even on the most basic and simple issues of running a business with international suppliers and customers, will we have to put customs forms on every shipment we send out, will VAT standardisation and reporting have to be different, will we have to pay a standard tarriff like the 2.5% Currencies Direct talk about just to bring new stock into the UK. A more complex business will have even more complications. Most of this hasn’t even been talked about in the campaigns, but if it gets more difficult it will require more management time and therefore more cost.

  • Trumpton
    1 year ago

    It’s all about us us , now and money. The Remainers have been royaly conned.

    If our economy was as bad as Lithuania, where the population has decreased by a third, you’d all be voting out. Meanwhile, Switzerland’s economy is flying, twice as good as ours, and they are out of Europe.

    Remainers have absolutely no vision. Its all about here and now.

    I’m voting out for my Kids.

    • Martin
      1 year ago

      Yes, but we aren’t like Lithuania in history, structure, economy, and whatever their view is of no relevance to our decision.

      As for Switzerland and their flying economy, please remember that they pay substantial sums to the EU just as we do, they have to accept and abide by EU laws, including free movement of goods and people, even though they aren’t in the EU, and this benefits them with a flying economy. So actually, the EU is benefiting their country. Strange that.

      Oddly I also have a vision, a vision of a world dominated by a handful of major trading blocks and countries, but also a vision of a Europe where my kids and grandkids are free to move and work where they want and will be treated equally and respected wherever this will be, a world where countries work together to solve the major crises that affect the world, a world where the vulnerable are protected and cared for. This is the kind of world I want my descendents to live in, and it is a very positive vision to have.

    • Trumpton
      1 year ago

      Any idea then why the Remain campaign is scare mongering so much given your information about Switzerland ?

      I don’t think you’d enjoy working in Austria, where 35% ( and rising ) of the votes went to the Far Right. Imagine working for a company employing 1000 staff and over 350 staff hate your foreign guts. Terrific work by the EU.

      The far Right is rising all over Europe. Uncontrolled immigration doesnt work, and whilst I dont think there would be Wars between EU countries, Civil unrest will be rife

  • Martin
    1 year ago

    Very simply because Switzerland fundamentally have to do what the EU say, including free movement of people. In other words, operating on the same basis as Switzerland wouldn’t save us money, wouldn’t change immigration, and we would have absolutely no influence and control over the decisions the EU make. So what would be the point of leaving? Switzerland on the other hand have never tried to join, but found it necessary to enter these agreements with the EU, despite their disadvantages, to stop their economy from stagnating.

    Incidentally, non-EU Switzerlands takes 4.5 times more EU immigrants per head of population than the UK, because of the their agreement to free movement of people.

    Frankly, can’t say I have ever come across an Austrian who has any view on my guts.

    • Trumpton
      1 year ago

      Well I hope you never do, but you havn’t taken one of their jobs. Logic really.

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