Brothers up in arms over EU referendum debate


Two brothers who run separate haulage companies a stone's throw away from each other find themselves on different sides of the debate ahead of the EU referendum.

The country will have its say on June 23 with opinion polls suggesting voters are finely split on whether to remain or leave.

So too are Nigel and Ian Baxter who used to work together at RH Freight, a company set up by their father in Nottingham more than 40 years ago.

Older brother Nigel took on the business and is now managing director of RH Commercial Vehicles and Ian has gone on to set up a separate firm, called Baxter Freight, on the other side of Nottingham's Ring Road.

And while Ian admits he is a Eurosceptic, he thinks a vote to leave would cause uncertainty and ultimately be harmful for the country.

He said: "I believe on balance the UK should vote to stay in the European Union. That's not because I love everything about the EU, I just believe for trade and geopolitical cooperation reasons, we are better off staying in.

"There's too much bureaucracy in the European Union and not enough democracy, it definitely needs to change and I am not arguing for the status quo.

"But this is a once in a lifetime choice and we don't know the consequences of leaving, it's a risky thing to do and I don't think it's in Britain's economic or political interests to leave."

The chairman of Baxter Freight, which employs 60 people and has plans to expand, added: "My brother and I agree on a lot of challenges the European Union faces, but my view is the optimistic view and the long term view that we have to collaborate with our neighbours and we need to stick together."

But Nigel Baxter, who is part of the Business for Britain group and is managing director of RH Commercial Vehicles, said he was "surprised" by his brother's stance.

He said: "He takes the view that we are better in Europe trying to reform it, a very big task and one that I don't believe is achievable. Europe is beyond reform.

"If you take 28 children and put them in a room, different ages, different cultures, different nationalities, one TV, one remote and ask them what to watch, you won't get a unanimous decision.

"It will ultimately be resolved by the German kid picking the remote up and they'll watch what he wants to."

Nigel, who was 12 when in 1975 when the UK voted to remain part of the European Community, said he welcomed the chance for the country to have its say.

He said: "The common market was sensible and correct at the time, but the EU has morphed into something more political. 

"If the vote was instead asking people whether, given everything they now know, to join the EU or stay out, I'd say to anyone who was unsure about joining why would you not vote leave now?"

And it turns out the pair are not only divided on the European Union question - Nigel supports Chelsea while Ian is a fan of Arsenal.

Nigel said: "I've no idea why he supports Arsenal. But I'm not sure why he wants the UK to stay in the European Union either."