Harris Tweed Hebrides stresses importance of EU membership

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Harris Tweed Hebrides, the award-winning company which provides employment for more than 200 people in the Western Isles, has given strong backing to the campaign to remain within the European Union.

The company exports more than three-quarters of its ouput with the great majority either selling into EU markets or transiting through EU ports en route to other destinations.

Germany, France and Italy are all important markets for the fabric.

Chief executive Ian Angus Mackenzie said: “People will reach their individual decisions for many different reasons, and we respect that.

“However, it would be remiss for a company which is so heavily dependent on exporting not to put forward the positive case for remaining within the EU, when local livelihoods may depend upon it.

“It is extremely important to us that we can sell into one of the world’s biggest free trade areas without additional costs, tariff barriers or other bureaucratic obstructions.

“There is absolutely no guarantee that these conditions could be retained outside the EU.

“Eventually, there may be new trade agreements but it seems unlikely that our current partners would be in any hurry to offer us the kind of arrangements which currently exist.

“At very least, there would be a period of great uncertainty from which British exports would inevitably suffer.

Harris Tweed Hebrides chairman and former Trade Minister, Brian Wilson said: “As a company, we support our employees’ rights at work which have been built up over many years and are underpinned by EU directives.

“The extension of these rights has been resisted at every turn by the people now leading the Brexit campaign and would be immediately vulnerable if they succeed.

“We are also part of a community which has benefited hugely from investment in infrastructure, generated by EU policies and its commitment to the peripheral areas of Europe.

“Like every other business in the Western Isles, we benefit day and daily from that investment and do not now wish to turn our backs on it.”