Prime Minister David Cameron’s efforts to keep Britain within the European Union have been dealt another blow as the cosmetics giant Avon has announced plans to move its headquarters to the UK despite the referendum on EU membership.
Pro-Brexit campaigners welcomed the move as “great news for Britain.” They say it demonstrates that Britain will not merely survive outside the EU, but can thrive as an independent nation.
The 130 year old company, known for selling its products door to door, sold much of its North American business to private investment firm Cerberus last year following falling sales in the country. Consequently, it now plans to move its headquarters to the UK to focus on rebuilding the brand as part of a three year plan to kick-start new growth. The company will also lose 2,500 of its 28,300 employees worldwide in a bid to cut costs, the BBC has reported.
The news will be something of a disappointment for the Prime Minister and his fellow ‘remain’ campaigners, who have been engaging in ‘Project Fear’ tactics designed to frighten the British people into voting remain. Mr Cameron has been predicting dire economic consequences of a Brexit for some weeks now, even going so far as to have civil servants in Downing Street draft a letter to be signed by FTSE 100 CEOs. In the end, just a third of the bosses agreed to put their name to it.
But for pro-Brexit campaigners, who have long insisted that the British economy is powerful enough to stand alone, Avon’s move is a vindication.
UKIP’s employment spokeswoman Jane Collins MEP called the announcement “another blow to Project Fear and great news for Great Britain.”
She added: “We’ve had companies defy Mr Cameron and his team of letter writers in 10 Downing Street by saying they will remain in the UK if we vote to leave the EU but this is a new step as it’s a company moving jobs here showing this country can thrive as an independent nation.
“Freed from the shackles of the EU and its rules and regulations as well as the drive for a corporate tax base, we will see a thriving economy and real pull factors to companies to base themselves in Britain: a death knell to this lie of three million jobs being at risk should we govern ourselves.”
Avon isn’t alone in showing faith in the British economy; the announcement comes on the heels of the German exchange Deutsche Börse making a bid for the London Stock Exchange – yesterday rumours swirled that it may even raise its bid in an attempt to see off a challenge by US rival Intercontinental Exchange – and less than a week after the chief executive of Norway’s $830 billion sovereign wealth fund said that a Brexit would not pose a significant risk to their investments.
Yngve Slyngstad said: “We will continue to be a significant investor in the UK at about the same level as we are today and probably even increasing our investments there going forward no matter what happens.”
Meanwhile, a CNBC poll found that 73 percent of global Chief Financial Officers said that Brexit would make either no difference or a positive difference to their chances of doing business with the UK.
“The more David Cameron says that Brexit will trigger some sort of economic Armageddon, the more developments in the business world fly in his face,” said Liz Bilney, CEO of the Leave.EU campaign.
“While the Prime Minister threatens voters with years of pain and uncertainty, Avon has shown that the UK will be a place to do business despite the fact that we are on the verge of leaving the EU.
“The British public should follow the money.”