CBI Accused Of Rigging ‘Misleading’ Pro-EU Business Poll

Confederation of British Industry (CBI) President Sir Michael Rake addresses delegates at the CBI's annual conference in central London, on November 4, 2013.
LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images

The voice of pro-European Union (EU) big business, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), is facing accusations of rigging an opinion poll now used to promote the ‘Remain’ referendum campaign.

The criticism focuses on the sample used by polling company YouGov for a 2013 survey said to show that eight out of ten businesses supported staying in the EU. Vote Leave has written to the British Polling Council asserting “serious violations” of the Council’s rules.

Vote Leave claims the poll “caused the public to be misled about the views of British businesses on the EU for nearly two years” reports The Times. It says the polling sample, understood to have been selected for YouGov from the CBI’s membership list, was “wholly unrepresentative” of Britain’s 5.2 million companies making the poll unreliable.

The complaint highlights the fact that of the 451 respondents only 20.5 per cent employed fewer than 50 people, despite the fact that 99.2 per cent of British businesses qualify for that category. The letter also says that only 22 per cent of the businesses surveyed had a turnover of less than £5 million whereas the average turnover of private businesses in Britain is just £673,000.

The letter continues: “These facts are capable of giving rise to the inference that the CBI was allowed to select which of its members were surveyed in order to further the CBI leadership’s longstanding pro-EU stance.”

Vote Leave also alleges the CBI and YouGov breached best practice by failing to disclose information about the poll on their websites.

A CBI spokesman says it used YouGov “to conduct a survey of businesses on the EU” but claims it was “never intended to be a poll of all British businesses.”

The CBI does not disclose its membership list, publish detailed accounts or reveal who sits on its committees, including the policy-setting president’s committee. The organisation is part-funded by the European Union and has a long history of pro-EU advocacy including being a cheerleader for British adoption of the Euro.

The recently-retired President of the CBI, Sir Mike Rake (pictured above), reflects the unquestioningly pro-EU sentiment of the big business lobby. As Breitbart London previously reported he, along with other leading lights of the Remain campaign, signed a letter in 2003 urging the government to adopt the Euro. It concluded:

“The weight of independent economic evidence suggests that the conditions for entry are right. Commercial reality strongly dictates that the risks of staying outside the euro far outweigh any risks of joining. The European single market has moved on and we are no longer full members. We hope that the Government will have the courage of its convictions and recognise that membership of the euro is in our long-term national interest. To do otherwise would have serious consequences for Britain’s future prosperity.”

As recently as 2013 Sir Mike stood by that sentiment, telling an interviewer:

“I absolutely declare I’m a kind of eyes wide open pro-European. In fact, I’m a Europhile. And in fact, I’m probably one of the few people left standing, and don’t hold this against me, who still believes in the Euro, in this country.”

Follow Sarkis Zeronian on Twitter: or e-mail to: szeronian@breitbart.com


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