Graham Robb - North East ConnectedBusinesses in the Tees Valley will debate the UK’s membership of the European Union at a special Leaders’ Lunch on 11 May.

The Institute of Directors (IoD) will hold the debate at Wynyard Hall, Durham – just six weeks ahead of the crucial vote on 23 June.

Guests will hear arguments for and against Brexit from a panel that includes Julie Moody of Business for Britain (Leave) and Ian Dormer of Rosh Engineering, an ex-chairman of the IoD (Remain).

They will be joined by Andy Silvester, Head of Campaigns at the IoD, who is a regular contributor to national media on the referendum. The event will be chaired by Graham Robb, chairman of the IoD in the North East.

Graham said: “Whatever their views on the UK’s membership of the EU, the IoD is urging businesses to consider the implications of the referendum. With only six in 10 IoD members having even discussed the issue at board or senior management level, we feel that business leaders need more of an opportunity to listen to the case from both sides.”

Allie Renison, Head of EU and Trade Policy at the IoD, said: “Business leaders will have heard plenty of claims from both campaigns on what is at stake in this referendum, but trying to work out what really matters may at times feel like wading through treacle.

“We want to make sure our members get to hear the substance of the issue, rather than just the sentiment, so they can be confident they understand the arguments before they vote.

“Even if a firm doesn’t directly trade with the European Union, it might employ EU citizens, or be part of supply chain that could be affected by the outcome of the referendum. Business leaders up and down the country are telling us that they need to hear more practical arguments about whether, and how, Brexit would really affect their company’s future.”

The debate gets underway at Noon. It is part of a series of IoD referendum roadshows across the UK during May and June. Debates will also take place in Leeds on 10 May and Hull on 11 June.

The IoD is not campaigning for either side in the referendum. When asked following the Prime Minister’s EU reform deal in February, 60% of IoD members said they planned to vote to remain in the union, 31% said they intended to vote to leave and 9% were undecided.

The debate is open to IoD members and non-members. To book a place, email iod.northeast@iod.com.