UK business leaders urge Britain to remain EU members

Almost 200 UK business leaders have signed a letter to the Times warning against Brexit, but with a number of notable absentees.

By Colin Mackay

23 Feb 2016

In a letter to today’s (23 February) Times newspaper, 197 UK business leaders have signed a letter backing Britain’s  membership of the EU.

The letter, which features signatories from more than one-third of Britain’s largest companies, employing around one million people, states that, "Britain will be stronger, safer and better off remaining a member of the European Union." It adds that, "leaving the EU would deter investment and threaten jobs" and "would put the economy at risk."

However, despite the presence of a large number of FTSE companies, there are some eye-catching absentees. Barclays Bank, brewers Whitbread, insurance giant Legal & General and supermarket chains Tesco and Sainsbury all declined to sign the letter.


One company said the referendum was "a matter for the British people to decide", with another declining to have their company comment, saying it was a, "matter for the individual voter."

There was also ongoing political fallout in the UK. In debates in the House Commons, UK Prime Minister David Cameron warned that, following a vote for Brexit, "current access to the single market would cease immediately after two years were up."

He said it could take "years and years" before the UK could agree new individual trade deals with the 53 countries around the world that would lapse on EU exit.

Meanwhile, Scottish National Party MPs have warned Cameron that in the event that Scotland voted in favour of remaining in the EU, taking the country out against their will could trigger a second Scottish independence referendum.

Alex Salmond, the SNP’s foreign affairs spokesperson, claimed that "Scotland would negotiate its position, and effectively Scotland would just stay in (the EU), and the rest of the UK would move out."


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