Brexit could mean last orders for Bury St Edmunds shop

Rene van den Oort, owner of Beautiful Beers, and MEP Richard Howitt ANL-160606-160819001
Rene van den Oort, owner of Beautiful Beers, and MEP Richard Howitt ANL-160606-160819001
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The manager of a successful Bury St Edmunds business which imports and exports beers all over the world fears it may have to close if Britain leaves the EU.

Rene van den Oort, who set up Beautiful Beers in St Johns Street six years ago, fears fluctuations in exchange rates and more red tape will cost him £10,000 a year more to trade in the event of a Brexit.

Beautiful Beers Rene Van der Oort says he fears the business may close if the UK leaves the European Union.
 Picture Mark Westley

Beautiful Beers Rene Van der Oort says he fears the business may close if the UK leaves the European Union. Picture Mark Westley

On Monday, East of England MEP Richard Howitt visited the shop to shine a light on the problems the business may face in the future.

Rene said although he was looking to expand the business, he now fears the shop will have to close if the UK leaves the EU.

“It could have a detrimental effect on our business,” he said, “it could cost me £500 a month just in fluctuations of the exchange rate.

“Longer term, the rate drop and the extra administration work that will be involved will cost me as well. We will most likely have to close.

Beautiful Beers owner Rene Van den Oort. 
Picture Mark Westley

Beautiful Beers owner Rene Van den Oort. Picture Mark Westley

“I was looking at expanding into Norwich and Ipswich but I am putting it on hold because I don’t know what will happen.

“My experience with the EU has been very easy, you don’t have to pay any more duty or fill in any more forms.

“The freedom of movement of goods means you can send items anywhere in the EU even beer with the duty rateable.

“However, I sent some beers to Norway recently and had to fill in five different forms and all copies needed to be in the parcel.

Diane Hind, Gavin Shuker MP and remain campaigners canvassing on Mildenhall Road Estate in Bury St Edmunds ANL-160606-122051001

Diane Hind, Gavin Shuker MP and remain campaigners canvassing on Mildenhall Road Estate in Bury St Edmunds ANL-160606-122051001

“Then the customer also had to pay duty in Norway on the beer. It spent a week in customs and it got to them a month after I sent it. But if I send a parcel to Romania it takes just four days.”

Rene said British ales were selling well on the continent.

“It is because they are very different from European beers,” he said.

“Czech Republic is famous for its lagers, so is Germany, and Belgium for its blonde beers. An English ale is very different, something you can’t really get anywhere else.”

Richard Howitt MEP said: “I can hold a pint glass in my hand just as much as Nigel Farage, but the difference is that I acknowledge the company that sells the beer benefits by Britain remaining in the European Union.

“This is a classic example of a family business that is making profit in Britain that faces closure if Britain votes to leave the EU.”

Meanwhile, Remain campaigners were out in force canvassing in the Mildenhall Road Estate in Bury last week joined by Luton MP Gavin Shuker.

Labour borough councillor Diane Hind, said she was pleased to get the message out, as the media have been focussing more on rifts in the Conservative Party.

“The media focus has been on Gove and Johnson up against Cameron and Osborne,” she said.

“I think that it has been to the detriment of the in-out debate. This division has distracted from the main issue.

“My view is that we need to remain in. I think it is much better for our economy, better for jobs and better for employment rates to be in the EU.”

Conservative MP Matt Hancock has also been on the Remain campaign trail, giving soapbox speeches in Cambridge and Newmarket in support of staying in the European Union.

On Wednesday June 15, MP Jo Churchill has organised a public meeting at the Athenaem on Angel Hill to debate the EU referendum with four speakers - John Gummer and Tim Stonehouse for Remain and Bernard Jenkin MP and Luke Morris from for ‘Leave’. The debate starts at 7pm.

On Thursday June 16, the West Suffolk Green Party is hosting an event in the Cathedral Rooms at St Edmundsbury Cathedral with Natalie Bennett making a speech at the event.

On Friday June 17 a public meeting is being held at Bury’s Quaker Meeting House from 6pm. There will be no speeches, just quiet discussion of the issues.

In March, Eurosceptic Employment Minister Priti Patel brought the ‘Brexit’ campaign to Suffolk. She said Britain’s EU membership was preventing it from striking free trade deals with fast growing economies around the world. Read the full story here