HALTON businesses gave an emphatic ‘thumbs up’ to remaining in the European Union at a mock EU referendum debate.

Businessmen and women from Runcorn and Widnes heard presentations explaining the facts behind the soundbites.

Arguments were aired from both sides of the debate and everyone was invited to join in a lively discussion about the merits of remaining and leaving the EU.

The discussion was hosted by Halton Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise at their first Tuesday business network event in the Hillcrest Hotel in Widnes on Tuesday.

A mock secret ballot revealed that 61 per cent of those taking part wanted to remain in the EU and 39 per cent expressed a preference for leaving.

Some people said they were still undecided.

Halton Chamber’s chief executive Paula Cain said: “It was good to rise above the scaremongering and have the facts and statistics about EU membership explained in a clear concise overview.

“The mock referendum was a bit of fun and really just a snapshot of the opinion of some of our businesses but interesting as a taster for where the country may be heading in the real referendum on Thursday, June 23.”

Lynn Pegler and Mark Butchard presented a balanced summary of how Halton and the Merseyside region has benefitted from European investment and what could Brexit could bring.

The next 1st Tuesday breakfast network event takes place at The Heath Business Park in Runcorn on Tuesday, July 5 at 7.30am.

Tickets cost £6.50 for members and £15 for non-members and should be booked in advance.

Anyone interested can call Nicola Holland on 0333 358 3480 or e-mail nicola.holland@haltonchamber.co.uk.