Over 300 business leaders have given their backing for the Brexit campaign in the upcoming referendum, saying the UK’s membership of the European Union (EU) “undermines” competitiveness and “stifles” enterprise.
The 306 British business leaders, who collectively are responsible for hundreds of thousands of employees, predict that freed from EU regulation post-Brexit the UK’s “world class” economy “will be free to grow faster, expand into new markets and create more jobs.”
In the comments made in a letter published by The Telegraph today, the signatories lay the blame for Britain’s competitiveness being “undermined” on the UK’s “membership of a failing EU” saying:
Year-on-year the EU buys less from Britain because its economies are stagnant and millions of people are unemployed. According to Mervyn King, the former governor of the Bank of England, 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.
In contrast to the international bankers, big business representatives and pro-EU lobbyists like the Confederation of British Industry behind most of the economic warnings against Brexit, the signatories to this letter are overwhelmingly linked to small and medium-sized enterprises.
Among those putting their name to the letter, which states “it is business – not government – which generates wealth for the Treasury and jobs for our communities”, are:
- Peter Botting — founder of a business which has trained over a third of current Conservative Members of Parliament (MPs) in presentation skills;
- Dominic Burke — Group Chief Executive of the multinational insurance specialist Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group;
- Tim Congdon — economics adviser to the Conservative government between 1993 and 1997, former UKIP parliamentary candidate, and founder of the international economic forecasting consultancy Lombard Street Research;
- Alex Deane — Managing Director at FTI Consulting, Common Councilman in the City of London, and former Chief of Staff to David Cameron;
- Steve Dowdle — former Vice President, Sony Europe
- Rocco Forte — Executive Chairman, The Rocco Forte Collection;
- Peter Goldstein — co-founder of highstreet health and beauty retailer, Superdrug Stores;
- Chris D Kelly — former Tory MP and Chairman of Keltruck, the largest independent Scania dealer in Europe;
- Tim Martin — founder and Chairman of UK and Irish pub chain JD Wetherspoon;
- Sir Patrick Sheehy — former Chairman of British American Tobacco; and
- Stuart Wheeler — former UKIP donor and founder of spread betting company IG Group.
The letter is published on the same morning as research which revealed that over the last fifteen years, the value of British exports of goods to the EU has grown by just 0.33 per cent, a worse performance than every other member state. By way of contrast, Germany’s exports into the single market during the same period rose by 78.9 per cent.
Brexit campaigner John Longworth — the former director of the British Chambers of Commerce forced to resign after calling for the UK to leave the EU — said:
“There is no area of Britain’s EU membership that has over-promised and under-delivered quite as badly as the single market.
“Instead of being the great engine of trade it was promoted as when it was launched in 1980s, it is now at best a mirage and at worst a source of stifling regulation that holds British back businesses at home and makes them less competitive in the world markets.”