ROSS CLARK James Dyson is no Brexit hypocrite for moving HQ to Singapore, he knows world trade is Britain’s future — so suck it to ’em, Sir
The hysterical Remainers who took a smug pride in Dyson’s decision have fundamentally misread the opportunities that Brexit presents to us and the reason so many voted to leave
By Ross Clark
24th January 2019
GIVEN that he employs 4,800 people in Britain, has invested his own money in a technological university and paid £185million in tax in 2017, you might think that Sir James Dyson was owed a bit of gratitude by our politicians.
Instead, he woke up yesterday to hear Lib Dem Layla Moran accuse him of “staggering hypocrisy” and Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey condemn him for “short-termism”.
Sir James Dyson announced he's moving his company's HQ to Singapore and Remainers immediately accused him of Brexit hypocrisy - but they are wrong about what Brexit means for Britain
His crime was to announce on Tuesday that he is moving his company HQ to Singapore.
Given that Sir James argued for Britain to leave the EU, the news was like a red rag to a bull for frustrated Remainers.
Dyson, they claim, helped land Britain in the soup and is now fleeing the country.
UNASHAMED BELIEVER IN GLOBALISATION
But if you will excuse the pun, the charge against him really sucks. Dyson’s decision has nothing to do with Brexit and is the very opposite of short-term thinking.
Sir James has looked ahead and seen that his most rapidly-growing markets over the next few years are going to be in the Far East. This is especially true, he believes, with his latest venture: Driverless cars.
As for the charge of hypocrisy, it could only be made by someone who hasn’t bothered listening to the case which Sir James made for Brexit.
Far from wanting Britain to retreat into glorious isolation, he wants the UK to open its economy to the whole world, and believes the EU is frustrating this.
He has complained of the difficulty in hiring staff from outside the EU.
“At the moment, if we want to hire a foreign engineer, it takes four-and-a-half months to go through the Home Office procedure,” he said in 2016.
I wouldn’t be surprised if part of what lies behind his decision to relocate his global HQ is Corbyn’s threat to seize ten per cent of UK companies’ stock
Ross Clark On James Dyson Moving His HQ To Singapore
He has also been frustrated by the way that engineers trained at UK universities are forced to leave the country after they finish their studies, rather than take up jobs here.
Admittedly, those are both failings of the Home Office rather than strictly the EU, but Dyson has also been critical of excessive EU regulation — an opinion honed through sitting on EU committees.
While it is nice to be able to trade across the EU without paying tariffs, he has said, the EU forces us to charge sometimes punitive tariffs on goods we import from outside it.
He explained his vision for a post-Brexit Britain as one where our country becomes a little more like business-friendly Singapore, which has become the third wealthiest country on Earth in terms of GDP per capita.
Sir James, in other words, is an unashamed believer in the benefits of globalisation.
So why is it hypocritical that he is practising what he preaches and locating his global HQ where he believes it will be best-placed to take advantage of economic growth?
In fact, in campaigning for Brexit Sir James was in one way arguing against his own personal financial interest.
He owns farmland in Britain and knows he will lose subsidies paid under the absurd EU Common Agricultural Policy.
The inventor poses at the Dyson vacuum cleaner factory in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, which will stay on as the company's centre for research and development
It is hardly as if Dyson is withdrawing from Britain. The company’s research and development centre will remain in Wiltshire, as will its university.
He will continue to pay large amounts of tax here, and only two senior jobs will be relocated to Singapore.
None of the firm’s other thousands of British workers will be affected at all. Rather than bark at him, Labour and the Lib Dems ought to ask themselves: What is it that makes global companies choose where to locate their activities?
If they speak to Sir James, I am sure he will tell them the same as other entrepreneurs: That they appreciate low taxes, flexible labour laws and efficient regulation.
As things stand, Britain scores quite highly in these areas, which is why — contrary to Remainers’ scare stories — the economy remains healthy and we continue to attract overseas investment.
In its assessment of the global economy this week, the International Monetary Fund sees the UK this year as having the joint third-fastest growing economy in the G7, level with France and ahead of Germany and Italy.
Employment is at a record high, with 32.5million people in work. The unemployment rate, at four per cent, is lower than at any time since the early Seventies — and less than half the levels in France.
What’s more, earnings have risen in the past 12 months by 1.1 per cent in real terms — that is after adjusting for inflation.
But it would be a very different story if, God forbid, Jeremy Corbyn made it to Downing Street.
What does Rebecca Long-Bailey think would happen to investment in Britain if Labour did as it promised in its 2017 manifesto and jacked corporation tax up from 19 per cent to 26 per cent?
There would be far more companies fleeing to Singapore, where corporation tax rate is 17 per cent.
The hysterical Remainers who took a smug pride in Dyson’s decision yesterday have fundamentally misread the opportunities that Brexit presents to us, as well as the reason so many voted to leave.
It’s not that Leavers want to pull up the drawbridge and pursue small-minded protectionalist policies — it’s that they want to take Britain away from the confines of the EU and send her out to compete globally, unfettered by the regulations and red tape of the bloc.
Just as there was a shriek of petty outcry when it was announced the our new blue passports wouldn’t be made by a British firm, the naysayers are missing the point. We are now a global nation, competing for global customers. Those passports could be made by anyone, even the French.
Sir James Dyson hasn’t said as much, but I wouldn’t be surprised if part of what lies behind his decision to relocate his global HQ is Corbyn’s threat to seize ten per cent of UK companies’ stock in order to set up funds for workers.
GREY CORPORATE MEN NOT ENTREPRENEURS
I am all for employees owning a stake in the companies for which they work, but threatening to seize assets is just going to drive businesses away.
Remainers will point to polls showing that most senior business figures would rather remain in the EU.
But there is a big difference between grey corporate men and entrepreneurs such as Sir James Dyson, who have built businesses from scratch.
Britain has produced too few global companies such as Dyson in recent years, which grew from nothing in 1991 to an annual turnover of £4billlion and profits of £1billion in the past year.
The very least politicians can do is to listen to and respect the views of a man who has achieved this.
Ross Clark is a columnist for The Spectator.