Stoke City and Bet365 boss Peter Coates fears Brexit will “cost us”

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Stoke City chairman Peter Coates fears Brexit will “cost us dearly”.

Mr Coates, who also owns Bet365, one of the city’s biggest employers, says leaving the European Union could “hurt us very much”.

He spoke out as a panelist on BBC’s Question Time held at Staffordshire University in Stoke last night (Feb 23).

He was with four other panelists involved in topical debate chaired by David Dimbleby while the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election took place.

“I believe that leaving the EU is going to hurt us very much,” said Mr Coates.

“In my view, this is going to cost us dearly.”

Last year, almost 70% of Stoke-on-Trent voted for Britain to leave the EU in the referendum.

But Mr Coates added: “Don’t take much notice of the last six months, or the next two years, as this is a long game which we’ll see play out.

“In a couple of years’ time, we’ll look back and say ‘why did we do that?’

“I started my own company in 1968 and I do not know what the European Union has stopped me from doing.

“As far as I can see, it has stopped me from doing nothing and I have never felt that I wasn’t governed by Parliament.

“We have built up Europe as a bogeyman, which it isn’t.”

Audience members were invited to ask members of the panel questions.

One highlighted the job losses in the manufacturing industry in Stoke-on-Trent.

Mr Coates said: “Stoke has retained many factories and they produce something like 13.5% of the output for the city.

“That is the highest manufacturing contribution of any city in the United Kingdom.

“The ceramic industry has kept itself together, is doing well and is producing more jobs within Stoke-on-Trent.

“From a manufacturing point of view, Stoke-on-Trent has done very well.”

Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce said they neither agreed of disagreed with Mr Coates’ negative views on leaving the EU.

A spokesperson for the Chamber of Commerce said: “The Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce has taken a neutral view of Britain leaving the EU.

“We neither agree or disagree with the comments made by Mr Coates.”

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