Creative Sector business leaders call for new Brexit referendum

Opinion  |  17 January 2019

Over 170+ UK business leaders respond to the defeat of the Brexit deal by calling on both main party leaders in Westminster to support the campaign for a People’s Vote.


Over 170 UK business leaders have responded to the historic defeat of the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal by calling on both main party leaders in Westminster to support the campaign for a People’s Vote.

A letter published in the Times was supported by several Animation UK and UK Screen Alliance members, as well as Animation UK Executive Chair Kate O’Conner and UK Screen Alliance CEO Neil Hatton.

The 172 signatures include many leading figures from across the breadth of the creative sector, who are concerned that the £101.05bn contribution made to GDP in 2017 by the Creative industries will be threatened by a poor or no-deal Brexit.

Among the names of CEOs of some of the biggest creative companies are Richard Johnston of the TV company Endemol Shine; Chris Hirst from advertising giant Havas, and David Shelley, head of book publishers Hachette. Alongside them are renowned British entrepreneur Sir Terence Conran, and famed architect Sir Norman Foster.

The list included prominent figures of leading visual effects, animation and facilities companies, such as Richard Moss of Gorilla TV; Adrian Bull of Cinelab London; Lucy Ainsworth-Taylor of BlueBolt; Phil Dobree of Jellyfish Pictures; Ian Mackinnon, Founding Partner Mackinnon and Saunders; Cara Sheppard of Warner Brothers DeLane Lea; Will Cohen of Milk Visual Effects, and Dave Sproxton, exec chair of Aardman Animation – creators of Wallace and Gromit

The signatories represent businesses from across the UK, from the Gateshead based Northern Film and Media to Tom Meyerratken of North Wales based Carl Kammerling International and Keith Neilson, who has signed for Edinburgh-based healthcare tech business Craneware.

The list also includes leading figures from the gaming, technology, and research and development worlds who are all calling for the next steps in Parliament to involve a People’s Vote.

The letter, published in the national press, argues many businesses initially backed the PM’s deal, despite knowing that is was far from perfect but that now the priority has to be preventing a chaotic crash-out from the EU.

It states:

“The only viable way to do this is by asking the people whether they still want to leave the EU. With the clock now ticking rapidly before we are due to quit, politicians must not waste any more time on fantasies. We urge the leadership of both the main parties to support a People’s Vote.”

Full text of the letter

Dear sir,

Many businesses backed the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal despite knowing it was far from perfect. But it is no longer an option. The priority now is to stop us crashing out of the EU with no deal at all. The only viable way to do this is by asking the people whether they still want to leave the EU. With the clock now ticking rapidly before we are due to quit, politicians must not waste any more time on fantasies. We urge the leadership of both the main parties to support a People’s Vote.

  •    Business for a People’s Vote has argued that none of the Brexit alternatives being suggested – such as SuperCanada, Managed No Deal, Common Market 2.0 and a Customs Union – are real.
  •   To get them MPs would have to first to sign up to the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement including its notorious backstop – a deal they rejected this week by 230 votes in Parliament.
  •      The UK will need to delay our departure from the EU in order to hold a People’s Vote – and the EU has said it will grant an extension of Article 50 for that purpose.
  •      But it will not give an extension just because we can’t make our minds up what we want to do. That’s another fantasy. So MPs should not waste time asking for extra time until they have agreed that they want a People’s Vote.

Full list of names:

Prominent new names:

Lord Norman Foster
Sir Terence Conran
Terry Sargeant, UK CEO, Thyssenkrupp
Caroline Rush, British Fashion Council
Keith Neilson, Craneware (a quoted FTSE 250 company in Scotland)
David Shelley, Hachette UK (huge publisher)
Richard Johnston, Endemol Shine (biggest independent TV producer)
Chris Hirst, Havas (huge advertiser)
Dave Sproxton, Aardman (animation company behind Wallace and Gromit in Bristol)

Signatories in full:

Adrian Bull, Cinelab London; Alan Bishop, Creative Industries Federation; Alastair Matchett, Financial Edge Training; Alex Chesterman, Cazoo; Alexis Hagger, Lexhag; Dr Alister Scott, The Knowledge Bridge; Andrew Crump, Unkillable; Andrew Wray, La Mancha; Dr Andrew Varga, Seetru Limited; Andrew Forty, DCC Supplies Ltd; Sir Andrew Large, Former Deputy Governor, Bank of England; Sir Andrew Cahn, Former Chief Executive of UK Trade and Investment; Andy Payne, AppyNation; Andy Pye, Carousel Web; Avin Rabheru, Housekeep; Brian Cantwell, Soho Editors; Cara Kotschy, Fifty Fifty Post Production; Cara Sheppard, Warner Brothers DeLane Lea; Caroline Rush, British Fashion Council; Charles Perry, Founder SecondNature; Charles Hall, Pepper HQ; Charlie Johnson, BrighterBox; Chris Donnelly, Irlandes Consulting Limited; Chris Pike; Chris Filip, Game Anglia; Chris Fisher, Multrees Investor Services; Chris Payne, Quantum Soup Studios; Chris Hirst, Havas; Clare Cooney, Progressive Broadcast Hire; Craig Fletcher, Founder of Multiplay; Dan Weaver, Fudge Animation; Dana Denis-Smith, Obelisk Support; Daniel Murray Serter, Dawn; Dave Sproxton, Aardman Animation; David Skellon, Fischer Yachts International; David Montgomery, Local TV Ltd; Sir David Chipperfield, David Chipperfield Architects; David Shelley, Hachette UK; Derek Tallent, Press Red Rentals; Dinesh Dhamija, Founder; Dominic Murphy, 8c Capital; Douglas Hare, Outplay; Drew Jones, Peerless; Duncan Painter, Ascential; Ed Galton, Cake Entertainment; Eileen Byrne, Media Dog Limited; Elizabeth Cantelo, Fizzyville; Emanuel Andjelic, Squirrel; Erica Darby, SpiderEye; Erik De Kroon, Yordex; Evgeny Shadchnev, Makers; Dr Faz Chowdhury, Nemaura Medical; Fiona Todd, Global Health Strategies; Gary Liniers, Wealth Dynamix; Gary Waterston, Gagosian; Geeta Sidhu-Robb, Nosh Detox; George Osborn, Go Editorial Limited; Gerard Versteegh, CEG; Gillian Gray, Outplay; Graham Spencer, Plants For Europe Limited; Harriet Vine MBE, Tatty Devine; Henrique Olifers, Bossa Studios; Ian Mackinnon, Founding Partner Mackinnon and Saunders; Imre Jele, Bossa Studios; Jake Birkett, Grey Alien Games; James Garratt, Enviresearch; James Catmur, J C & A Ltd; James Appleby, Bike Rental Manager; Jeremy King, Corbyn and King; Joachim Hom, SAM Labs; Joanne Handley, Elite Employment Group; Joanne Burnett, Translator; Jodie Azhar, Teazelcat Ltd; John Shirley, John Shirley Ltd; John Tulip, Northern Film and Media; John Nelson, former Chair of Lloyd’s of London 2011 – 2017; John Butler, Global Health Strategies; Jonathon Porritt, Forum for the Future; Jonny Geller, Curtis Brown; Joseph Schull, Corten Capital; Josh Bishop, Brightrock Games; Justen Hyde, Emergent Design Ltd; Justin Hawke, Moor Beer Company Ltd; Justin King, Former Chief Executive, Sainsbury’s; Lord Karan Bilimoria, Founder Cobra Beer; Kate O’Connor, Animation UK; Kathryn Parsons, Decoded; Keith Neilson, Craneware PLC; Kelly Sumner, Mediatonic; Kristen Schnapp, Gringa Dairy; Lara Ratnaraja, Creative Indus Consultant; Laura Marshall, Icon Films; Lucy Ainsworth-Taylor, BlueBolt; Marcus Davey, Roundhouse; Mark Turpin, Yogscast Ltd; Sir Mark Boleat, Former Policy Chairman City of London Corporation; Mark Taylor, A Productions; Mark Selby, Wahaca; Martha Lane-Fox; Matthew Slotover, Frieze Art Fair; Melvin Benn, Festival Republic; Lord Mervyn Davies, Corsair Capital; Michael Dale, Firebrand; Michael Pragnell, Former Chairman Cancer Research UK; Sir Mike Rake, Former President of the CBI and Chairman of BT; Mike Bithell, Bithell Games; Milly Ali, Timeline TV; Natalie Griffith, Identity Spark; Natasha Plowright, Photographers Gallery; Neil Hatton, UK Screen Alliance; Nev Handley, Elite Properties NW Ltd; Nicholas Lovell, GamesBrief; Nicola Horlick, Money & Co; Nidhima Kohli,; Lord Norman Foster, Foster and Partners; Oli Hyatt, Blue Zoo; Oliver Pugh, Founder Table YETi; Patrick Flockhart, Kallanish Limited; Lord Paul Myners, Former Chairman Marks and Spencer; Paul Browne, Richmond Browne Ltd; Paul Nurse, Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine 2001; Paul Appleby, VID Communications; Paul Williams, Stanton Williams; Peter Phillips, Unicorn Training; Peter Williams, Boohoo Group; Petra Wetzel, WEST Brewery; Phil White, Upstage Communications; Phil Thomas, Cannes Lions; Phil Dobree, Jellyfish Pictures; Pip Jamieson, The Dots; Praful Nargund, CREATE Fertility; Pratik Sampat, iHorizon; Rajeeb Dey MBE, Learnerbly; Richard Swart, Berger Closures; Richard Hare, Outplay; Sir Richard Sykes, Net Scientific PLC; Richard Reed, JamJar Investments; Richard Johnston, Endemol Shine; Richard Moss, Gorilla TV; Roberta Lucca, Bossa Studios; Rolly van Rappard, CVC; Roland Rudd, Finsbury; Rosa Ashby, Rosa Flowers Witney; Rosie Wolfenden, Tatty Devine; Russ Shaw, Global Tech Advocates; Ruth Fielding, Lupus Films; Sam Jaffa, Brand New Communications; Sara Brammall, Summit Medical and Scientific; Sean Costelloe, The Mill; Simon Woodroffe, Yo Sushi; Solitaire Townsend, Co-Founder Futerra; Stephen Morris, Liscombe Group; Stephen Peel, Novalpina Capital; Steve Peck; Steven Mendel, Bought by Many; Susan Hartman, Metaphysis LLP; Sir Terence Conran CH; Terry Sargeant, Thyssenkrupp; Tina Wight, Wightwaters Accountants; Tom Booth, Badtown Design Ltd; Tom Davies, TD Tom Davies; Tom Meyerratken, Carl Kammerling International; Tom Price, Stern and Co; Dr Tony Doyle, Doyle and Tratt Products Ltd, Veronique Lallier, Hi-Rez Studios; Will Moore, Nodding Frog; Will Cohen, Milk Visual Effects; William Copley, Armstrong Bell; William Kendall, By the Crossways; Zoe Jackson MBE, Living the Dream Performance Arts Company