ONE of Britain’s biggest property and construction tycoons backed ‘Vote Leave’ today – urging proud Britons to “have confidence” in their country.
Fred Story, on the Sunday Times Rich List for his £125 million fortune, runs the Story Group and is also a former owner of Carlisle United FC.
Mr Story founded his empire from a bedroom office in 1987 but it has gone on to win £100 million Network Rail contracts and build hundreds of new homes.
Previously he has confessed he was torn as he agonised over the June 23 referendum.
But now he has backed Vote Leave – blasting a hole in Remain campaigners’ claims that quitting the EU will damage our construction industry.
Today he insisted one of his deciding factors was the EU’s ridiculous squandering of taxpayers’ money and our use of their business grants..
Mr Story said: “Like a lot of people, I have been torn over this issue.
“A lot of scary stuff has been said about what would happen if we leave the EU; and yes, if we do choose to leave I think the UK economy will suffer a little bit.
“That’s obviously a concern but what swings it for me is that I have confidence in this country.
“So I’m probably going to vote Brexit because what excites me about this country is that over the last ten years there have been a lot of young people wanting to start their own business.
“We’re becoming a much more entrepreneurial country, so I believe that we could thrive without the shackles of the EU.”
Businessman Mr Story founded the group in 1987 from his bedroom with just three colleagues working with him in Carlisle, Cumbria.
That same year he won his first contract – £513 for work on a BP Filling Station in Barrow.
In 1988 he quit his bedroom office for a Portakabin in the garden before later that year winning his firm £1m contract to build a cinema.
By 1999 he had 100 staff on his books and in 2001 he split the business into two wings – house building and construction/contract hire supplies.
In 2002 the group was ranked as one of the UK’s fastest growing companies in the Sunday Times Profit Track 100.
And in 2014 they won their first £100m contract, creating 40 new jobs after securing a deal with Network Rail.
He blasted the EU for its “red tape” for businesses and said the European Union is treading water.
He added: “Europe is not going anywhere. It’s stuck in tar. The rest of the world is the future.
“I certainly agree the Australian model for immigration is fantastic and would be fantastic for this country.
“We’re an attractive country so why shouldn’t we ensure we get only the best people to come here.
“What I also don’t like about Europe is we put £19 billion in and get £10 billion back.
“I could almost live with that bill but I’ve seen what they do with the money that comes back. It’s handed out as grants and not well spent.”
Written by Chris Riches