Sir James Dyson, previously a strong supporter of Britain adopting the euro currency, has today said that he would vote to leave the EU.
Dyson was one of the chairmen and chief executives of 20 FTSE 100 companies who signed a statement published in the Financical Times in 1998 calling for early membership for Britain in the eurozone.
But in an interview with the BBC Today programme he revealed his change of heart, saying: “I would vote to leave [the EU], I want to keep EFTA (the European Free Trade Agreement), though, but I don’t see that we need to be dominated by the Germans.”
The engineer and inventor even backed a UKIP style immigration policy, saying that it was important to attract the brightest and the best to study and work in the UK.
Asked if he was worried about the hostility to immigration and the result of the Rochester and Strood by election, Sir James said: “I am in the sense that we need to keep certain people here who come to our universities.”
He added: “I think we should change our immigration laws to allow the right sort of people to stay here, the sort of people we desperately need.”
His change of heart started over the EU Regulations banning powerful vacuum cleaners. This was not because the rules banning machines over 1600 from being sold by EU retailers because none of his products are over 1400 watts.
He told the Telegraph: “If they are not going to listen to us, we shouldn’t be there.”
But he went further today with his announcement he would vote to leave, not muddying his answers with talk of ‘renegotiation’, particularly surprising BBC Presenter John Humphreys who, from his line of questioning, was looking for an answer which was scathing about UKIP only hours after their latest victory.
“I think it’s an EU dominated by Germany,” he said: “and in our particular field we have these large German companies who dominate ‘standard setting and energy reduction’ committees and so we get the old guard and the old technology supported and not the new technology.”
It was only back in 2000 that he claimed the failure of Britain to join Euro would lead to the destruction of the British manufacturing base. “It does not mean that the jobs will go tomorrow but will drift abroad over a period and the longer-term future of Britain as a manufacturing nation will be blighted. Ministers had better understand that if we delay entry too long there may be nothing left to save,” he said.
In February 2000, Dyson threatened to shift focus from his Wiltshire site to a new plant set up in Malaysia over the government’s insistence to keep the pound. Only months later, in November, he said: “It’s suicidal for the UK not to join the euro.”
Following his outburst, former Trade and Industry Secretary Norman Tebbit questioned Dyson’s motives and said: “What still puzzles me is why such a euro-enthusiast as Mr Dyson does not intend to establish his new factory in Europe if he can’t have it in Britain.”