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Hilary Devey - When it comes to Europe: I’m IN

One of my earliest memories is watching as the bailiffs came in and took the last piece of furniture from our family home. 

I was just seven years old and my father’s central heating company had gone bankrupt. Despite this setback, he managed to turn things around, get into another business and provide a good living for us all. To this day he remains my biggest inspiration. He refused to give up, and rebuilt from scratch to provide for our family. He also gave me the best education anyone could have. By the age of 11 he had taught me all the skills I needed to run a business. 

Since then I’ve always been driven by a desire to provide opportunity for others. It's so important we give all young people the chance to develop and succeed, no matter their background or education. Our generation has a duty to provide the same opportunities for our children that we enjoyed. That is why I firmly believe we must vote Remain in the EU referendum on 23rd June.

It is thanks to the UK’s place in Europe that I’ve managed to grow my logistics business, Pall-Ex, into an international multi-million-pound company. After being refused a loan from my bank I was forced to sell my house and car to finance the business. Pall-Ex has a turnover of £100 million in the UK and derives 40% of its revenues from its European operation. Tens of thousands of employees in the UK and Europe rely on Pall-Ex for their livelihood. Being part of the EU’s single market has helped my company to succeed. It made it possible to expand my distribution network from the UK right across Europe. That has meant I can employ more workers and provide more opportunities for young people across Britain. And it has meant a major British company has become a big player on the European and world stage.

There are countless self-made businesses like mine which thrive from having full access to the EU’s single market; our home market of 500 million people. As the Small Business Champion for the Britain Stronger in Campaign, I want these businesses to continue to have the ability to grow and expand. I know that cutting ourselves off from our biggest export market would be hugely damaging to the ability of businesses to trade and export freely. Recent analysis from the Treasury shows leaving the EU could lead to 820,000 job losses and hit the average household to the tune of £4300 a year. As an entrepreneur and investor I’m used to taking risks. But that is simply a risk we cannot afford to take.

In the end each voter in this referendum will make a decision based on their own reasons. But I urge you to think carefully when you go into the ballot box. Because this choice is the biggest investment Britain will ever make, and it is our nation’s future generations which will be most affected. Of course the EU isn’t perfect. But the overall economic benefits mean we get a massive ten to one return on our investment. That’s why when it comes to Europe my choice is clear: “I’m In.”