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Brexit Publicis Groupe EU

Publicis boss Levy ruffles feathers among politicos, saying remaining EU countries would be “angry” at UK on Brexit

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By Jennifer Faull, Deputy Editor

April 29, 2016 | 3 min read

Publicis Groupe chief executive Maurice Levy has said that the remaining counties in the European Union would be “angry” at Britain for leaving the EU should it vote that way in June and warned it was naive to think that they would just accept consequence. The suggestion ruffled the feathers of Lord Norman Lamont, former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer who said it was “shameful argument” from the Publicis Groupe boss.

Levy’s comments came today (29 April) at a debate organised by Bloomberg which focused heavily on the consequences a Brexit would have on trade agreements.

Levy interjected to say: “You’re forgetting about the anger of all the EU countries. You believe it has a soft belly, [is] something that has very littles strength, would not react and just accept consequences […] nothing is further from the truth.”

He continued: “People will protect their own interests. This will be a fight, a tough fight. You can’t believe that you could put the EU at risk and that you’ll continue to benefit,” later saying “I would argue that without the trade and support of Europe, [Britain] would not be where [it is] today!”

Lord Lamont, who served Chancellor of the Exchequer during the Conservative party’s leadership between November 1990 and May 1993, described Levy’s argument as “shameful” and “a very poor advertisement” for the Remain camp.

“The alternative is that Britain is compelled to stay. They [the EU] know very well if Britain leaves other countries will to. That’s a shameful argument. There ought to be respect,” said Lord Lamont.

However, the pair agreed on one point – that the EU needs to be reformed. Lord Lamont said an exit “might be the only way” to force the change while Levy concurred that one of the only positives to emerge from the Brexit debate is the light it has shed on the “drawbacks and issues” which will need to now be addressed.

“I may agree with you,” Levy said to Lord Lamont, “But this is not a reason to leave. I believe what’s happening is already a wakeup call and staying in Europe can help dramatically with change.”

Overall the panel was evenly split on whether to stay in or out, a contrast to the overall sentiment of the advertising industry which it seems is leaning heavily towards staying in the EU.

Levy has previously warned on the impact Britain leaving would have on the Publicis Groupe. Much like his 'frenemy', WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell, Levy is concerned that the turmoil an out vote would create will inevitably lead to many advertisers to continue to postpone investment decisions and the damaging effect it would have on the advertising business.

Brexit Publicis Groupe EU

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