Priti Patel speech at the Spring Conference of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers

It is a privilege to be here today and speak to and meet so many representatives from our licensed retail sector.

Coming from a family business background,

I believe passionately in the vital role that businesses and entrepreneurs play in supporting investment, growth and jobs in our economy.

A strong, dynamic private sector creates wealth and opportunity for all.

So I want to pay tribute to everyone here today for the tremendous work you do and the tireless efforts you put into supporting our economy.

The 200 companies that are members for the ALMR have an amazing and powerful economic footprint.

22,000 outlets supporting 650,000 jobs gives you a voice in every part of the country

– And that number is growing at a fast and impressive pace.

And I particularly welcome the employment opportunities provided to young people, starting out in their chosen careers and getting their first taste of employment.

The skills and responsibilities that they learn and the training and apprenticeships that this sector provides gives them an invaluable start in life.

I also welcome the lead your members are taking with supporting apprenticeships, with over two-thirds of your members giving young people the chance to earn and learn through this career path.

Your success and entrepreneurial spirit is very much appreciated and welcome.

I also welcome the opportunity to be able to speak to you about the big choice that Britain faces in the forthcoming referendum on our membership of the European Union,

The economic benefits of standing tall as a free, independent and sovereign country,

And to set out the positive case for Britain to Vote Leave on 23 June.


EU Referendum:

I am a firm believer in setting business free to innovate and invest,

I know how much red tape and regulation acts a barrier to your businesses.

I know that every pound you have to spend complying with rules and regulations is a pound taken away from investment on the frontline of your business;

And as a result you expect and demand action from Government on delivering supply-side reforms and reductions in red tape.

But Government and Parliament can only go so far –

There is a limit to what they can do to cut red tape

And that limit is there because we are a member of the European Union.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a fact that while we remain a member of the European Union, our hands are tied and we are powerless to act on reducing the burdens of red tape.

Britain is a proud nation of entrepreneurs, and small businesses, including in your sector, are the backbone of our economy.

I want us to be able to do everything we can to support them to thrive, but EU membership prevents that.

Unaccountable and unelected bureaucrats with no clue how to run a business and no local knowledge of this country dictate the rules that we all must follow.

British Ministers and MEPs are left to plead our case but all too often their views are over-ruled.

The UK has not managed to block a single proposal from becoming law through the EU Council, costing this country £2.4 billion each year.

We have opposed 72 measures in the EU Council, all of which have gone on to become law with the British interest ignored.

While our success rate at standing up for the Britain interest in the EU Parliament is also almost as bad.

During the last full term of the EU Parliament (2009-2014), 1,936 motions were passed, of which 576 were opposed by a majority of British MEPs.

But 485 of those – 84% - were still passed.

That means that when the British national interest is at stake,

Government Ministers in the EU Council have always been outvoted by the rest of Europe,

And five times in every six votes, European MEPs block our national interests.

Not only does this undermine our democracy as we are unable to hold European decision-makers to account,

Our lack of power over these matters is worrying because new rules and regulations from Europe cost you and our country money.

Research from Open Europe has shown that there are dozens of regulations imposed by the EU with the costs on British business totalling over £33 billion.

In 2010 the British Chambers of Commerce put the total cost of EU regulation on British business at £80 billion per year.

In 2005, the Treasury, estimated that the costs of the ‘single market’ could be over £125 billion per year, which is the equivalent of 7% of GDP, £4,639 per household, or £23,236 per company.

Other research shows that while every single business is bound to the EU’s ever-increasing rulebook, the percentage of businesses exporting to the EU are 6% and 12.5% of the British economy is exports to the EU.

Just think of the jobs that you could create and the investments you could make in expanding your businesses if you were not bound by these burdens.

Just think of the freedom you would have to innovate if we were no longer forced to compel with every diktat from Brussels.

Just think that by getting rid of some of the EU rules that make it so difficult to create employment, we could deliver a £4.3 billion boost to our economy and 60,000 new jobs.

The evidence from business of the consequences to our economy of EU regulations is damning.

CBI members list cutting back EU regulatory burdens as a priority, and 49% of their members report that EU employment law has a negative impact on their business.  

Similar findings from the English Business Survey found that 46% of businesses affected by EU red tape said the impact was negative.

Bureaucracy from the EU does not have the confidence of British businesses.

Businesses, growth and jobs have all been sacrificed to satisfy the dogmatic march towards greater integration and a federal European superstate.

The only way we can liberate ourselves from these burdens is to Vote Leave and take control over our laws on 23 June.


Red Tape Cuts for Small Business:

If this country Votes Leave, we can have a strong and positive future as an independent, free and sovereign country.

By being able to take back control of the laws that we make, we can begin the process of auditing and untangling our laws from the Brussels red tape from that hits our businesses hardest.

This is categorically not about rolling back workers’ rights

– this is about releasing businesses from unnecessary and meddlesome red tape

– which will in fact benefit working people by helping businesses create more jobs.

Cutting EU red tape on business – starting with small and medium sized businesses business – will be a valuable boost to productivity, growth and job creation.

We know that we can only safeguard business from EU red tape by leaving the EU because attempts to reform from within have failed.

Despite those wanting to remain in the EU stating that they want to “exempt Europe’s smallest entrepreneurial companies from more EU Directives.”

The renegotiation deal has given no guarantees of red tape cuts.

But if we Vote Leave on 23 June, we will not need to negotiate and lobby the EU,

Or beg Commissioners and other Governments for favours.

We can crack-on and free business from the shackles of regulation.

EU laws will be replaced by laws made in the UK by politicians accountable to you.



During the campaign so far, those in favour of remaining in the EU have played up the so-called risks of leaving the EU.

We’ve heard all sorts of scare stories about the economy,

And British business has been talked down.

But the biggest risk and uncertainty does not come from leaving the EU.

The biggest risks to business come from remaining in the EU.

Leaving business exposed to face the consequences of the future burdens that the EU can unilaterally impose on them is playing Russian Roulette with peoples’ livelihoods.

With all the damage and costs from the EU, it is astonishing to see that those who want the UK to remain in the EU have put so much faith in its failing institutions.

It is simply not plausible to claim that the EU is ‘good for jobs’ when there is over 20% unemployment in Spain and Greece, with youth unemployment in some parts of the EU over 40%.

And there’s over 10% unemployment – some 3.6 million people – across the Channel in France.

In fact, 3 of the 4 European countries with the highest employment rates – Norway, Switzerland and Iceland – are not in the EU,

While Japan and the USA also have much lower unemployment rates.

Membership of the EU is no guarantee of a strong healthy jobs market.

In fact, with the plans from Brussels to harmonise more of our employment, social and other laws with countries that have a terrible jobs record, like Greece and Spain,

We can see that the big risk to peoples’ jobs is staying in the EU.

Outside of the EU, we can set the sensible and flexible employment policies that suit employers and employees and offer secure employment.  

History also tells us that the prosperity of our businesses cannot be left in the hands of the EU.

I remember the devastating consequences that the ERM had on businesses, including my parents’.

And just imagine the utter carnage that would have affected our economy had we listened to the EU elite and joined the Euro.

More recently, the EU has forced up insurance prices for female drivers.

Last year they turned their fire on small scale cider producers demanding the removal of tax emptions.

And they’ve put obligations on housebuilders, set limits on the maximum energy of appliances like vacuum cleaners, and limited the size of containers that olive oil can be sold in.

Remember, at any time bureaucrats from the Commission and judges in the Court can strike.

And your business and your interests could be next.

That is a risk that to business that I cannot stand by and accept.

And this is why we are safer and more secure as a free, independent, and sovereign country.



If we vote to leave the EU, we will be better off from being liberated to cut red tape to boost productivity.

We will also be better off as a result of no longer needing to send a £350 million per week membership fee to Brussels.

Those costs are forecast by the Office for Budget Responsibility and the Treasury to be a contribution to the EU of £19 billion in this financial year,

And a total of £96.5 billion by 2021.

As our economy grows stronger compared to the rest of the EU, we could end up paying even more in.

That money does not come out of thin air.

It comes from the tills of your businesses from the taxes that you pay.

It comes from the fruits of your labours and from the rewards for the risks that you take.

And what does the EU do with your money?

It does not spend it on your priorities.

It spends it on its own self-serving schemes, wasteful bureaucracy, and on projects in far-flung parts of Europe.

By leaving the EU, that money can be spent in this country on your priorities.

We can use it, for example, to support businesses by investing in new infrastructure, or by cutting the tax burden.

I am sure you will agree with me that your hard-earned taxes can be put to more productive use in this country.



I spoke earlier of the importance of business and your sector to our economy,

And it is because I am determined to see business succeed that I believe we will be better off voting to leave the EU.

We have the fifth largest economy in the world, with growth outstripping Germany for the past four years.

We are bursting with innovators, entrepreneurs and wealth-creators who bring in investment, create growth, and support jobs.

We have a workforce that is upskilling.

We have more children learning in good and outstanding schools being equipped with the skills needed for the modern workplace.

We have record numbers of people in work.

And we have more people starting their own businesses.

But I want us to do better,

And we can only do better if we vote to leave the EU and take back control of our laws and our money.

Our choice on 23 June is a clear one.

We can choose to remain in an unaccountable, unreformed EU,

that damages British business,

takes our money,

and puts our future prosperity at risk.

Or we can vote for a positive and secure future as a free, independent and sovereign country,

Where we can spend our money on our priorities,

Make our own laws,

Take an axe to EU red tape to free enterprise,

And make the most of the potential and talent that our great country has to offer.

Let’s Vote Leave on 23 June and take control of our destiny.


Thank you.



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