Official government attempts to make the economic case against Brexit risk losing traction as increasing numbers of senior British executives give their support to the Leave campaign.
While the massed establishment ranks of the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Bank of England, the Confederation of British Industry and the International Monetary Fund have clamoured to issue predictions that a Brexit vote in the upcoming European Union (EU) referendum would damage the UK economy, actual business executives are increasingly contradicting that stance.
Evidence for the existence of an emerging pro-Brexit business camp is found in the Electoral Commission’s recently published figures on referendum campaign funding, reports the Financial Times. According to official figures the largest donors to both the Remain and Leave sides of the campaign showed pro-Brexit business people giving generous support to the eight registered Leave campaigns.
This movement reinforces polling in early April of members of the British Chambers of Commerce, one of Britain’s two main employer organisations, which found that 37 per cent of members intend to vote to leave the EU in June’s referendum, up from 30 per cent in a poll conducted in late January/early February.
As Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson tours the country’s local businesses, visiting places like the aluminium processing, recycling and manufacturing business JBMI Group in Hixon (pictured above), some of the 306 executives who expressed their support for the Leave campaign in a letter published on Monday have begun to speak out.
Those breaking cover cite the positive effect on the UK’s economic potential they believe Brexit will generate as a contrast to the EU’s low growth, burdensome regulation. Robert Hiscox, the former Chairman of Lloyd’s of London underwriter Hiscox Ltd, said:
“Regulation is our biggest handicap in the global race. And if you add on to it the extra layer of very bad and corrupt government from the EU, the waste of money is phenomenal.”
Others have mention the renewed possibility of bespoke trade deals the UK could enjoy with more dynamic parts of the world. Patrick Barbour, a former Chairman at both Barbour Index and Microgen, donated £500,000 to the campaign. He said:
“The EU is the only bloc since 2008 that has not shown growth, whereas every other part of the world has. [After Brexit] we could concentrate on expanding our trade worldwide.”
Hotel chain owner Sir Rocco Forte says the UK has been held back by the lack of impetus for reform in other parts of the EU, and predicts that the period of negotiation that would follow a Leave campaign victory would not be characterised by “huge disruption”, explaining: “There’s more uncertainty now than there would be then.”
Tim Martin, founder and Chairman of UK and Irish pub chain JD Wetherspoon, who like Sir Rocco works in an industry employing many non-UK EU nationals, said:
“The benefits for my business would be a more prosperous country.”