A FERRY firm has spoken out in support of staying in the EU – and warned that a Brexit vote could affect the free movement of people.
Brittany Ferries, which sails to six destinations from Portsmouth International Port, has written an open letter setting out its stance on the referendum, due to be decided tomorrow.
It said: ‘We were born with the EU. We have grown and become successful with the EU.
‘The principles that still drive our business after more than 40 years complement fundamental principles of the Treaty of Rome: breaking down barriers, facilitating the free movement of people and augmenting cross-border trade. Having grown within this framework, we are – of course – supporters of the Remain position.
‘We know that many passengers and freight customers may disagree, but we believe many things we take for granted, particularly the free movement of people and of goods, might become more difficult were we to exit.
‘Nevertheless, we reassure customers that, whatever the outcome, on the day and in the immediate future Brittany Ferries will operate services as normal.
‘We shall continue to develop our business within a new post-Brexit trading environment, if the British people vote to leave.’
Brittany Ferries was started on the day the UK joined the EEC, set up by a collective of French farmers who saw an opportunity to export vegetables to a new market.
Since then it has grown to a company that carries 2.5m passengers and 200,000 freight vehicles every year. It connects to 11 destinations across four countries; the UK, France, Ireland and Spain, with Portsmouth serving Le Havre, Caen, Cherbourg and St Malo in France and Santander and Bilbao in Spain. However 85 per cent of its customers are British.
In March, Portsmouth City Council voted in favour of urging residents to opt to leave the EU.
Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt has also spoken in support of leaving the EU.
She said: ‘Brittany Ferries should be reassured that what matters to us and our European partners will endure – trade, travel and tourism will carry on as normal.
‘Nor will a vote to leave see any immediate changes – our exit will take years, and to suggest otherwise is very misleading.
‘Voting to leave will protect us from the damaging ports directive, which has been postponed until after the referendum.
‘Our trade with Europe has been being done at the expense of the opportunities with the rest of the world. We want the freedoms we need to thrive, but also the hope for Europe to reform.
‘Without reform, Europe will continue to stagnate. For the country to prosper – including its ferry companies – we need to vote for change and something better.’