Poll finds majority of mechanical engineers back UK staying in the EU

A survey of 2765 members of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) has found 56% support the UK staying in the European Union (EU), compared with 27% who say they want the UK to leave and 17% who are undecided.

The Institution has also outlined the key engineering issues likely to be affected by the EU referendum, which include: access to markets and skills, sourcing foreign investment and research funding and ensuring the UK’s ability to influence and create international engineering codes and standards.

“Whatever the outcome of the referendum in June, Government needs to ensure the result does not damage the UK’s vital engineering and manufacturing sectors,” said Stephen Tetlow MBE, chief executive of the IMechE. “Government must focus on the key engineering issues likely to be affected by the decision.The most pressing are: improving access to markets and people with the right skills, ensuring open access to foreign investment and growth in research funding as well as ensuring the UK is still able to continue to play a leading role in influencing European codes and standards.

The majority (64%) of the professional engineers polled said the uncertainty over the UK’s future in the EU was having a negative effect on UK manufacturing, which they said could explain recent statistics that show that UK output shrank for the second quarter in a row.

Almost half (49%) of those surveyed said that leaving the EU would make the UK less attractive as a European base for global manufacturers, while a third (33%) said they were concerned over the potential for trade barriers being imposed if the UK did leave.

According to the respondents, the main benefit to the UK’s membership in the EU is better access to markets (46%), however about 60% of the engineers surveyed said that bureaucracy imposed by the EU was detrimental to UK manufacturing and engineering.

“The results of this survey shows that the majority of our members support the UK remaining in the EU, however there is a clear desire from the engineering community to see less bureaucracy from Brussels,” Tetlow added.

A referendum to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the EU is being held on Thursday 23 June.