By Peter Dominiczak at The Telegraph
More than 300 business leaders are calling on Britain to vote to leave the European Union, saying that the country’s “competitiveness is being undermined by our membership”.
In a letter published in the Telegraph, the business leaders say that Brussels’ “red tape stifles every one of Britain’s 5.4 million businesses” and claim that a Brexit would allow them to “create more jobs”.
Signatories of the letter include Peter Goldstein, a founder of Superdrug, Steve Dowdle, the former vice president Europe of technology firm Sony, David Sismey, a MD of Goldman Sachs and Sir Patrick Sheehy, the former chairman of British American Tobacco.
The letter is also signed by hundreds of people linked to small and medium-sized businesses. In total the backers of the letter are from businesses employing hundreds of thousands of members of staff.
- Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, said that Brexit campaigners are in “denial” about the economic risk of the UK leaving the EU, in an intervention described as “incredibly dangerous” by a minister.
- George Osborne, the Chancellor, will on Monday make a speech warning about the economic cost of a Brexit.
- Boris Johnson prompted a row by comparing the EU to Nazi Germany.
- Senior Conservative said that as many as 100 Tory backbenchers could back a no confidence vote in David Cameron if Britain votes to remain in the EU.
- Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, said that he will under no circumstance share a platform with Mr Cameron ahead of the referendum.
- Three million European Union citizens in Britain could have to be deported in event of a Brexit, a Home Office minister suggested.
The letter in the Telegraph is signed by 306 business leaders in a personal capacity.
It states: “Year-on-year the EU buys less from Britain because its economies are stagnant and millions of workers are unemployed. According to Mervyn King, the former Bank of England Governor, the Euro ‘might explode’. Brussels' red tape stifles every one of Britain’s 5.4 million businesses, even though only a small minority actually trade with the EU.
“It is business - not government - which generates wealth for the Treasury and jobs for our communities. Outside the EU, British business will be free to grow faster, expand into new markets and create more jobs. It's time to Vote Leave and take back control.”
Meanwhile, Lord Farmer, the former Treasurer of the Conservative Party and founder of Red Kite Group, who is also a signatory of the letter has written for this newspaper’s website to say that warnings of the risk of a Brexit are “misguided”.
Lord Farmer writes: “Warnings of disaster if we leave are misguided. Britain, the world’s fifth-biggest economy, should be confident that others will want to trade freely with it especially if, like the EU, they already do so. Europe has a surplus of nearly £70bn with us and no reason to put up barriers.
“Nor will EU countries want to restrict their access to the London markets. Canary Wharf alone does more business than Frankfurt and we are Europe’s financial outlet to the world. Everyone benefits when London booms.
“We can see the possibility now for a bright new beginning. By voting to leave, we will be taking back democracy and this will benefit everyone. By ending a decades-old deception, we will be leading the way for the continent to become more democratic and less intrusive. Brussels will moan, but I suspect the peoples of Europe will be pleased.”
David Cameron’s remain campaign believes that it can win the June 23 vote by focussing on the risks of a Brexit to the economy.
Mr Osborne is in the coming days expected to unveil a major report detailing exactly how the value of houses will fall if Britain leaves the EU.
The Leave campaign will use the letter to claim that British businesses are divided ahead of the referendum.
They will also point to the support of so many business leaders from small and medium-sized companies.
Eurosceptics have repeatedly said that the Remain campaign is backed only by big business.
It emerged last week that the campaign to keep Britain in Europe is being part-funded with hundreds of thousands of pounds from foreign companies and some of America’s biggest banks.
Figures from the Electoral Commission show that Citigroup and Morgan Stanley donated £250,000 each to the official Britain Stronger in Europe group ahead of the June 23 referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union.
Two other US banks – Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan – donated £500,000 each to the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign before February when donations had to be declared.