22nd Feb 2020

UK business lobby backs Britain staying in EU

  • Britain's business lobby is keen for the country to stay in the EU (Photo: stumayhew)

The UK's main business lobby group will offer "unequivocal" support for Britain staying in the EU on Monday (4 November), in the latest sign that industry will fall behind the campaign for Britain to remain in the 28-country bloc.

At the annual conference of the Confederation of British Business (CBI), director general John Cridland will endorse a 180-page report which states that the benefits of being within the EU "significantly outweigh" the costs.

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The "Our Global Future" report estimates that between 4-5 percent of UK GDP is directly dependent on EU membership, the equivalent of around £3,000 for every UK household. The report is based on a survey of the CBI's 240,000 membership.

Cridland Sunday (3 November) said that "on balance, British business believes it's better to be in the European Union," calling on politicians to "reform it from the inside."

“The UK could survive outside the EU, but none of the alternatives offers a better deal,” noted Cridland, adding that "we can’t end up on the fringes of the world’s largest trading bloc, following and paying for all the rules, but setting none."

UK prime minister David Cameron is keen to put business-friendly reform at the heart of his bid to renegotiate Britain's EU membership, before holding an "in/out" referendum in 2017, if his Conservative party wins re-election in 2015.

Following last week's EU summit in Brussels, Cameron told reporters that there had been a "sea change" in thinking on business regulation by the European Commission.

The CBI report comes days after polling by the Business for Britain campaign group revealed that 50,000 businesses would face immediate closure if the UK left the EU, putting an estimated 1.5 million jobs at high-risk.

The number of businesses and jobs whose future would be uncertain is more than double this figure, putting over 3 million jobs at risk from an EU exit, close to figures used by the government for the number of jobs linked directly or indirectly to the single market.

The figures are based on a survey by polling firm YouGov, which found that 5 percent of small businesses, 8 percent of medium and 9 percent of large businesses said they would close if Britain left the EU.

Peter Wilding, director of pro-European lobby group British Influence, said "the polling shows that if we left the EU large number of British businesses would close overnight meaning large number of jobs were lost and many more would face uncertainty for their future."

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