Microsoft takes sides in Brexit debate, says UK should stay in EU

While citizens of the United Kingdom will soon have to go to the polls to decide if their country should stay in or leave the European Union, Microsoft UK CEO Michel Van Der Bel has just shared his perspective on the Brexit debate via an open letter released today on Microsoft UK website (via the New York Times). In the letter, the executive claims that Microsoft currently has more than 5,000 employees in the country and also chose to leverage on the UK’s attractivity by opening its first overseas R&D laboratory in Cambridge.

And so, it’s not so surprising to see Van der Bel publicly take a stance and explaining that “the UK remaining in the EU supports important criteria for continued and future investment by Microsoft and others.” Please find the full letter below:

Ahead of the referendum in June, we’ve been asked by employees, customers and partners about Microsoft’s view on the UK’s membership of the European Union. As a business in an industry which will be affected by the decision we have carefully examined our position.

Ahead of the referendum in June, we’ve been asked by employees, customers and partners about Microsoft’s view on the UK’s membership of the European Union. As a business in an industry which will be affected by the decision we have carefully examined our position.

First and foremost, we want to emphasise that we firmly believe this is a decision for individual voters to make, based on the issues that are most important to them. We appreciate and respect that there are a range of reasons that motivate people on both sides of the debate, but as a business that is very committed to this country, our view is that the UK should remain in the EU.

We have a long history here. It’s where we opened our first international office in 1982 and we have been investing in the UK ever since. We have more than 5,000 highly qualified people working in fields including support, marketing, gaming, communications, cybersecurity and computer science research. We’ve built a global centre of excellence for the development of artificial intelligence and other computing disciplines. We’ve also worked in partnership with innovators, entrepreneurs and people with a passion for technology to help to create a thriving partner network of around 25,000 British businesses.

Historically, the UK being part of the EU has been one of several important criteria that make it one of the most attractive places in Europe for the range of investments we have made. At key moments in our international growth we have specifically chosen to invest in our capabilities here in the UK. Most recently, we announced that we would start offering cloud services this year from new UK-based data centres. And as we’ve grown, so too have the UK technology businesses we work with.

For us, the UK’s membership of a wider EU was also a key reason why we chose to invest in our first overseas R&D laboratory in Cambridge. Why? Because we knew that the world-leading scientists we wanted to attract would want and need to work directly alongside other great researchers from across the region. This flexibility of doing business attracts the best people, and the investment that follows them, to the UK.

Whatever the outcome of the referendum, we respect the decisions made by UK voters. Our commitment to our staff and business here remains firm, but we also believe the UK remaining in the EU supports important criteria for continued and future investment by Microsoft and others.

Your sincerely
Michel Van der Bel
UK CEO
Microsoft Ltd

The UK is set to have its referendum on June 23 and the latest opinion polls have shown uncertain results. Do you think Microsoft’s UK CEO is right to publicly take a stance in the debate? Please tell us what you think below.

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