Business

EU referendum: Tate & Lyle Sugars joins campaign to leave EU

Sugar factory Image copyright Tate & Lyle Sugars
Image caption Tate & Lyle Sugars says the EU has ignored its calls for reform

Tate & Lyle Sugars has written a pro-Brexit letter to staff saying leaving the EU would benefit the business.

The letter, written by senior vice-president Gerald Mason, says that the EU has pushed up the firm's costs.

TLS, which was sold to American Sugar Holdings in 2010 by FTSE 250 company Tate and Lyle plc, is the largest sugar cane refiner in Europe.

He is not telling the 800 staff how to vote, but say jobs will be more secure outside the EU.

Meanwhile, entrepreneur Sir James Dyson says the vote "is the last opportunity to regain control of our futures".

Sir James, who made his name producing bag-less vacuum cleaners, says in an article in the Times that voting to remain in the EU "would be an act of national self-harm".

Wednesday is the last official day of campaigning ahead of the UK's in/out referendum on its membership of the European Union, with voters going to the polls on Thursday.

Telling staff the company is losing money because of EU policies, Mr Mason writes: "Last year EU restrictions and tariffs pushed our raw material costs up by nearly 40m euros (£31m) alone, turning what should have been a good profit that we would all share into a 25m euros loss.

'Not democracy'

"We pay as much as 3.5m euros of import tariffs to the European Union on some of the boats of cane sugar that unload at our refinery, only for the European Union to then send that money to subsidise our beet sugar producing competitors in Europe."

Mr Mason said he has challenged EU officials about reforms, but been told "that if we lose our jobs then that's democracy because there are more beet producers than cane refiners in Europe. That is not the sort of democracy I want to be part of".

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His frustration at being unable to influence Brussels was echoed on Wednesday by Sir James.

In his Times letter, the entrepreneur says: "I have been manufacturing and exporting globally for 46 years and have 'sat at the table' dealing with European bodies for at least 25 of those.

'Mythical powers'

"I can confirm that we have no influence whatsoever in the shaping of Europe's protectionist laws and regulations. Believe me, we've tried."

He said the argument that Britain would be more prosperous outside the EU was overwhelming. He writes: "There is an entirely misplaced belief in the mythical powers of the single market and its influence and importance to the UK economy.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sir James has previously voiced his support for the Leave campaign

"It is simply untrue that Europe is the world's largest market. It represents only 16% of global trade - and its share is contracting according to the IMF.

"It remains a collection of smaller markets each with its own languages (Belgium has two), laws and cultures, with different plugs, boxes, and advertising."

Britain's focus should be more on the rest of world, he adds, saying "we have nothing to fear by leaving".

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