Over 100 UK tech leaders back new call for a people’s vote on Brexit – TechCrunch

Europe


As London Tech Week launches today to talk-up the capital’s prospects, over 100 UK tech founders, directors and investors are calling on the Government to back a meaningful vote “by the people” on the actual terms of Brexit. The tech leaders are signatories to the aims of new tech business group Tech For UK which is backing anti-Brexit campaign group Best For Britain in its fundraising campaign for a meaningful vote on the terms of Brexit and the option to “Remain and lead in the EU”. Over 50 other tech industry players have also signed up.

Tech For UK represents the founders of many of the most innovative businesses in the UK including Martha Lane Fox (co-founder of Lastminute.com and Doteveryone), Gareth Edwards (Founder, travel player Deckchair.com), Ben Whitaker (Founder of Masabi, the smart cities ticketing startup), Bernhard Niesner (Founder of the language learning giant Busuu), Giles Andrews (Cofounder & Chairman, of P2P lending pioneer Zopa), and George Bevis (founder of small business banking provider Tide), among many others.

The list also includes Tech community leaders outside of the so-called ‘London bubble’ including Dr Sue Black OBE, Founder, TechMums and Bletchley Park campaigner; Elena Sinel, Acorn Aspirations, which teachers teenagers coding and entrepreneurship; and Nuala Murphy (CEO, Moment Health) a leading entrepreneur based in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

The group said the loss of access to European funds, the flight of talent which powers UK tech companies due to the uncertainty and scandal around immigration, the loss of access to the Digital Single Market, which the Uk tech industry was never consulted over — all of these factors are adversely affecting the UK Tech industry, says Tech For UK.

Funding from the European Investment Fund has collapsed since the Brexit vote, and a replacement scheme has yet to be assured long-term by the government. The European Investment Bank, which backs a majority of the United Kingdom’s VC funds, has slashed deals with UK VCs and private equity groups by more than two-thirds, with scant equivalent funding from the UK government in sight. Even a government-backed report cited Brexit as a top challenge for tech companies in the UK.

The technology sector has consistently grown faster than the UK economy in recent years, employing over two million people and attracting billions in foreign investment.

“Collectively, Tech For UK supporters have raised hundreds of millions of pounds, put hundreds of millions back into the UK economy and employed thousands of people. This is why Tech For UK is lobbying for this vote,” said co-founder Josh Russell, partner of Resolve.

“The ongoing uncertainty along with declining growth is a hard one to take. We went from the fastest growing (before Brexit) to the lowest-growing in the EU with the economy expected to grow a mere 1% in 2018. While the government argues about the Customs Union for goods, it is Services make up the bulk of the UK economy and they’ve cut off the tech sector’s access to the Digital Single Market. It’s time the people of the UK had a say on what Brexit actually is,” said Madhuban Kumar, Founder/CEO, Metafused, and co-organiser of Tech For UK.

Brexit has not happened yet and appears to be already having an effect on the UK economy. The Bank of England recently released figures that showed “the UK economy is currently 1% smaller than expected two years ago”.

Here are some quotes from Tech For UK supporters, which is continuing to call for new supporters, while there is a growing Facebook group here.

“The Brexiteers admit they can’t deliver the Brexit they promised so we deserve a vote on the one they’ve got us instead.”
George Bevis, CEO, Tide.

“The greatest sadness of Brexit is that those who voted for it will suffer the most. What was sold to them as a vote for national freedom and prosperity is only going to lead to a poorer and more divided society. The rise in racist hate crimes is just one of the signs of this. We urgently need to reconsider the path we are on and not walk blindly into the darkness.”
Hephzi Pemberton, Founder of Kiteka and Angel Investor

“We now had 2 years of due diligence on Brexit and the British people deserve a vote on this deal. Anything else would be highly irresponsible and undemocratic.”
Bernhard Niesner, CEO & Co-founder of Busuu

“‘Lies run sprints, but the truth runs marathons’ – it’s becoming increasingly clear that the fiction that was promised by the Leave campaign was just that, and now the truths of the damage being done to our economy and our standing in the world are laid bare. The people deserve the chance to vote on the truth – the final terms of the agreement that will decide the future of this country. Anything less would be a travesty of democracy.”
Glenn Shoosmith Founder/CEO Booking Bug

“Having been deeply involved in the U.K. and global technology ecosystem for the past 20 years and most recently as an Advisor to the EU Innovation Minister as a member of the European Innovation Council, I firmly believe that we cannot work in a vacuum. A tech company born in the UK is global from almost day one, and I fear not having a say on the final terms of Brexit will have a meaningful impact on UK’s capability to maintain its global lead in the tech sector.”
Bindi Karia, Innovation Expert + Advisor

“Once the details are visible, we can truly vote on Brexit. Will it actually allow us to build the next generation of world-beating companies or is it shifting red tape from Brussels to London and increasing the cost of trading and working with Europe?”
Riaz Kanani, MD & Founder, Radiate B2B

“The UK and especially London has become a vibrant and globally successful centre for technology innovation. Many of the most exciting startup businesses here have been founded by immigrant entrepreneurs and grown with UK and European employees joining the companies as they grow rapidly. Any Brexit which does not keep the UK in the single market and customs union would in my view considerably dampen the prospects for tech start-ups here in the UK – there would be less of them and they would find it harder to grow as rapidly. We need a meaningful vote on the terms of Brexit.”
Simon Murdoch, Managing Partner, Episode 1 Ventures

“As technology entrepreneurs and investors, we are working in global markets. Access to talent and low barriers to market entry are key to secure the momentum of our industries. Brexit is the most important decisions for generations and it would be irresponsible not to let people have a decision on the exact term of the world they will live in”
Volker Hirsch, Angel investor and co-founder of Tech North Advocates

“As a Northern Ireland native, I’ve seen first hand the difficulty that division can cause, just as I can see the major and needless impact that Brexit is having on bringing back the divisions on that island. Isolation and protectionism has never proven to be a positive long-term strategy, and that is becoming clear in this case too. And with more in the tech industry, and in the UK as a whole, considering themselves citizens of the world, we risk closing our doors and driving away a diverse set of people that help make us all better.”
Rob Elkin, Busuu

“Our world-leading digital industry is being led into a back water of mediocrity by a crop of leaders who don’t even know what Brexit they want and why they want it. By keeping the best talent in the world out with central government quotas on immigration they’ve pulled down the shutters. Digital leaders will simply start up elsewhere. Let’s end this nonsense now, reopen our borders to Europe and the world, and bring back the experts!”
Toby Beresford, Rise

“I spent 12 years working in China – living over there I came to appreciate the value, and leverage, that comes with size. We are a small nation of 65m and I do not believe we are strong or powerful enough to go it alone in a rapidly globalising world. We are European and can’t pretend otherwise. We already have clients making London-based teams redundant as they move whole divisions to Ireland. I catch myself thinking “well it’s ok I’m sure the government know what they’re doing…” and instantly remember they clearly do not. A people’s vote is the common sense choice now that we all really understand what is at stake.”
Ed Dean, CEO, Woodseer Global

“Brexit affects everything from our relationships with family to our global standing, even potentially the Peace Process and Scottish Independence, so I was disappointed to see the campaigns be so divisive, muddied, vague, and in many cases inaccurate. We punch above our weight, which means we have a lot to lose. The country of Magna Carta and the Mother of Parliaments deserves a meaningful debate on concrete options, and a vote based on considered strategic goals. The young people of the UK are the ones who will have to deliver those goals. Right now they don’t want Brexit at all, so if it’s to succeed they need to feel heard and their concerns addressed.”
Richard Marr, CEO, BeApplied

“Once the government has negotiated the final terms for Brexit, it must give the electorate the opportunity to vote on whether to agree to those terms or not. Given the gravity of impact on our lives, businesses and the future prosperity of our children; it would, in my humble opinion, be both undemocratic and immoral not to do so. If we believe it is better to remain part of the EU as an alternative to that proposal, we should be given the chance to vote for that as an option too.”
Peter Ward, Co-founder, Humanity Inc

“Britons voted for Brexit in the initial referendum with inadequate and often wholly spurious information on both sides of the argument. For a decision which will impact our children’s lives across the decades and our commercial lives within a matter of months, it is incomprehensible not to give it the scrutiny it deserves: from parliament at least, and ideally the voting public.”
Nick Saalfeld, Director, Wells Park Communications

“London is Europe’s leading tech hub fuelled by talent from across the continent. A bad deal threatens to undermine the most dynamic part of our economy. If the government strikes a deal that lets us continue to thrive then they have no reason to fear a people’s vote on the terms of Brexit.”
Andy Cockburn, CEO & Co-founder, MentionMe

“We employ a bunch of highly skilled people and 70% of our staff don’t have a UK passport. Finding and attracting great team members is a major challenge and is the single biggest constraint on our growth. Anything we can do to make it easier for smart people to come to the UK is a bonus. Doing the opposite is frankly economic suicide.”
Adam Fudakowski, CEO, Switchee

“If the chief objective of the original Brexit vote is about ensuring that the people have their say, then a positive endorsement by the people is the only logical form of ratification that can be conceived in order to commit our great nation to the most material economic and social decision it’s made since entering World War II.”
Alex Hoye, Co-founder, The Faction Collective

“Our research on the Top500 multichannel retailers in Europe shows the UK as an admired leader in retail, logistics and the underlying technologies and skills. The market for talent, customers and capability requires frictionless access, a consistent and open commercial framework, and an appropriate regulatory framework. Harnessing the talents of the technology, digital and commercial sectors will help the UK chart the best course for its future, and we call upon Parliament to be free to engage in an open debate while retaining its constitutional obligation to act in the interest of the country’s future.”
Ian Jindal, Founder, Pencil / InternetRetailing

“As a growing tech business in the UK we’re already seeing the brexit effect, restricting access to the best talent and holding back advertisers from investing in brand growth. If these corrosive economic effects weren’t clear before the referendum, they are now – and we think people should have the opportunity to vote for the first time with a clear idea of how damaging brexit will be for jobs, growth and innovation.”
Andrew Walmsley, Chairman, Inskin Media

A partial list of backers to date is reproduced below:

Adam Fudakowski, CEO, Switchee
Adam Price, Founder, VouchedFor & Hatch
Alex Hoye, Co-founder, The Faction Collective
Andrea Tricoli, Co-Founder, Expressly
Andrew Walmsley, Non Exec Chairman, Inskin Media
Andy Cockburn, CEO & Cofounder, Mention Me
Ben Evans, Co-Founder, jClarity
Ben Farren, CEO, SPOKE
Ben Whately, Co-founder and COO, Memrise
Ben Whitaker, Founder, Masabi
Benjamin A. Falk, Founder, Yo-Da (your data)
Benjamin Redford, Co-founder, Mayku
Benji Lanyado, Founder & CEO, Picfair
Bernhard Niesner, CEO, Busuu
Bindi Karia, Innovation Expert & Advisor,
Blaine Cook, Principal Architect, Condé Nast
Carlos Oliveira, Founder & CEO, Shaping Cloud
Cassandra Stavrou, Founder, Propercorn
Cécile Baird, Founder, Decentrl.Agency
Charlie Dobres, CEO, Busking It Productions
Chris Greening, CTO, Managed Respone Marketing Ltd
Chris Pointon, Co-founder, Racefully
Chris Tolmie, Director, Catacoms
Colin Pyle, CEO & Founder, CRU Kafe
Conor Graham, Cofounder, #HackTheHub
Courtney Glymph, Product and Solutions Communications, CA Technologies
Damien Tanner, Investor,
Daniel Appelquist, Director of Web Advocacy & Open Source, Samsung Research UK
Daniel Murray, Co Founder, Grabble
David Batey, Founder, Nickelled Ltd
David Coveney, Director, interconnect/it
David Tenemaza Kramaley, CEO, Chessable
Dimitar Stanimiroff, CEO & Co-founder, Heresy
Dominic Campbell, CEO, Futuregov
Dr Sue Black OBE, Founder, TechMums
Ed Dean, CEO, Woodseer Global
Ed French, CEO, GameSessions
Ed Lascelles, Partner, Albion Capital
Elena Sinel, Acorn Aspirations
Ethar Alali, Managing Director, Axelisys Limited
Fabrice Bernhard, Co-Founder, Theodo
Frank Kelcz, Partner, Collider VC
Gareth Edwards, Founder, Deckchair.com
Gareth Quinn, Founder, Digital DNA
George Bevis, CEO, Tide
Gianluca Gindro, Senior Data Scientist, Geophy
Gilbert Corrales, CEO, Leaf.fm Ltd
Giles Andrews, Cofounder & Chairman, Zopa
Glenn Shoosmith, Founder & CEO, Bookingbug
Guy Morris, Managing Director, Quiz the Nation
Guy Podjarny, Founder & CEO, Snyk
Hephzi Pemberton, Founder, Kiteka
Hilary Anne Stephenson, Managing Director, Sigma
Hoi Lam, Head of Wear OS Developer Relations, Google
Hywel Carver, CEO/CTO, Multiple
Ian Jindal, Founder, Pencil / InternetRetailing
Ilicco Elia, Head Of Mobile, Deloitte Digital
Irfon Watkins, Founder, Dovu
Ivan Mazour, CEO and Founder, Ometria
Jack Huang, Director, TrulyExperiences.com
James Evans, Managing Director, Bluespot.io Ltd
James Whatley, Planning Partner, Ogilvy UK
Jana Hlistova, Founder, Diversity Hacks
Janna Bastow, Cofounder, ProdPad
Jason Trost, CEO / founder, Smarkets
Jessica Kennedy White,, UCL Educate
Joanna Goodman, Tech Journalist,
John Stevenson, VP Equity Derivatives, Citi
Jon Atkinson, Technical Director, FARM Digital Ltd.
Jonathan Grubin, Founder & CEO, SoPost
Jonathan Petrides, Founder, allplants
Josh Feldberg, Head of Digital, 89up
Josh Russell, Partner, Resolve
Joshua Wöhle, CTO, SuperAwesome
Julio Alejandro, CEO & Founder, Jada Consulting – “Taming Disruptive Technologies”
Kaj Wik Siebert, CTO, Social Finance
Katie Moffat, Head Of Digital, The Audience Agency
Kevin Schmidt, CTO, Century Tech
Laure Claire Reillier, Co-Founder and COO, Launchworks & Co
Laurence Kemball-Cook, Founder & CEO, Pavegen
Madhuban Kumar, CEO, Metafused
Marc Roberts, CTO, HiyaCar
Marc Sloan, Co-Founder & CEO, Context Scout
Marcus Greenwood, CEO, Ubio
Martha Lane-Fox, Founder, doteveryone
Martijn Verburg, CEO, jClarity
Martin Goodson, CEO, Evolution AI
Marty Neill, Founder, Airpos
Matthew Gardiner, Founder, Catch London
Matthew Painter, Founder CTO, Import.io
Melanie Moeller, Product Lead, Sky Spain
Merje Shaw, MD, Path59
Michele Cuccovillo, Partner, Rock Mission
Natasha Guerra, CEO, Runway East
Neil Cocker, CEO, Ramptshirts.com
Nic Brisbourne, Managing Partner, Forward Partners
Nicholas Katz, CEO, Acasa
Nick Patterson, Founder, Movemeon
Nick Saalfeld, Director, Wells Park Communications
Nuala Murphy, CEO, Moment Health
Oisin Lunny, Chief Evangelist, OpenMarket
Osvaldo Spadano, Founder & CEO, Akoova
Paul Dempsey, Founder/Director, The Curation Company
Paul Dyson, CTO, Singletrack
Peter Ward, Founder, WAYN
Pilgrim Beart, CEO, DevicePilot
Priya Prakash, Founder, D4SC
Raj Anand, CEO & Cofounder, Goodman Lantern
Raph Crouan, CEO & Founder, Startupbootcamp IoT
Riaz Kanani, MD & Founder, Radiate B2B
Richard Marr, Cofounder, Be Applied
Rob Elkin, CTO, Busuu
Rob O’Donovan, Ceo, Charlie HR
Rob Prevett, Co Founder & CEO, D/SRUPTION
Robin Grant, Chairman & Co-founder, We Are Social
Roger Nolan, Founder, The Culture Trip
Roger Nolan, SVP Tech, Culture Trip
Rupert Baines, CEO, UltraSoC
Sachin Dev Duggal, Founder, Engineer.ai
Simon Bennett, Founding Director, Roll7
Simon Murdoch, Founder, Episode1 Partners
St John Deakins, Founder & CEO, CitizenMe
Stephen Johnston, Founder, Fordcastle
Stephen Roberts, Founder, Vigilant Research
Sue Keogh, Founder, Sookio
Sultan Saidov, Co Founder, CPO, Beamery
Sundar Venkitachalam, Co-founder & CTO, nkoda
Tamara Sword, Founder, TRM&C
Thanasis Polychronakis, CTO, Alacrity Law
Thomas Power, Board Member, 9Spokes
Tim Boughton, CTO, Mention Me Ltd
Tim Fernando, CEO, Esplorio
Tim Hampson, Co Founder, SalesSeek
Tim Parlett, Co-Founder of Zopa, N/A (ex Zopa)
Timothy Brownstone, CEO, KYMIRA
Toby Beresford, CEO, Rise.global
Tom Adeyoola, CEO & Founder, Metail
Tom Alisi, Director, deep.ventures
Tom Bradley, Partner, Oxford Capital Partners
Tom de Grunwald, Creative Director, Microclimate
Tom Watson, Co-Founder & CTO, Hubble
Tristan Palmer, CEO & Cofounder
Tushar Agarwal, Co-Founder & CEO, Hubble
Uma Rajah, Cofounder & CEO, CapitalRise
Volker Hirsch, Founder, Blue Beck / Tech North Advocates
William Reeve, CEO, Goodlord
William Roberts, Founder, Loyalty Bay

(Interest declared, I am also a signatory).



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