THE boss of the Poole company which invented the lava lamp has backed staying in the EU.

Cressida Granger, managing director of Holton Heath-based Mathmos, spoke out as a survey suggested 57 per cent of leaders in the South West’s small and medium sized manufacturers will vote for ‘remain’ next week.

South West manufacturing consultancy SWMAS polled 134 manufacturers in what it called the largest survey of its kind in the region. It found 57 per cent backed ‘remain’, 27 per cent ‘leave’ and 16 per cent had yet to make up their minds.

When asked what risks were associated with a Brexit vote, business leaders cited volatile exchange rates, economic uncertainty, trade barriers and material and labour costs.

Many said businesses did not know enough to make a decision.

Cressida Granger said: “Over half our turnover is online directly into continental Europe, so trade barriers will affect us.

“Regulatory change in our industry means it is also important for our trade bodies to be round the table in EU negotiations.”

Many businesses drew attention to some of the risks of staying in the EU. Many reflected concerns about red-tape, bureaucracy, continued political integration and loss of trade opportunities.

An anonymous ‘leave’ voter, the managing director of a furniture firm, stated that a strong pound, coupled with cheap Eastern European imports from countries with low labour costs, was bad for business but also removed any incentive to train UK staff.

Simon Howes, managing director of SWMAS, said the consultancy had “seen a general concern over a reduction in business following a potential Brexit”.

He added: “Despite this, 69 per cent of firms surveyed still expected sales turnover to grow in the next six months, with 57 per cent expecting to recruit.”

He said that, whatever the outcome of the referendum, “there is certainly room for growth for manufacturers that continue to implement productivity improvements and update their business strategies”.

A Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry survey of its 800 members in April found 57 per cent of respondents in favour of ‘remain’.