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Survey reveals referendum choices

Business commits to EU but wants more detail on PM’s plans

Liz CameronThe vast majority of Scottish businesses want Britain to stay in the European Union, according to new research.

If a referendum on Britain’s membership were held now it would show 73% wanting to remain within the EU, rising to 90% for large companies.

The survey by the Chambers of Commerce showed 12.5% undecided and 0.4% who would not vote.

However, a quarter of respondent admitted they were unclear of Prime Minister David Cameron’s proposals for a renegotiated deal with the EU and his office has been urged to spell out what he is demanding.

Announcing the key findings of the study, Liz Cameron, director and chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce Network, said: “The results of this detailed survey of Scottish business opinion make for essential reading for our politicians.

“Contrary to some opinion, it is clear that business people are taking a keen interest in the debate on our future relationship with Europe, with nearly three quarters reading about it on a regular basis.

” Views are already being formed, but with 45% of businesses likely to be influenced by the content of the Prime Minister’s renegotiation package, it is important that as much information and detail as possible is presented to business and the wider electorate.

“Currently, 27% of respondents said that they were completely unfamiliar with the content being proposed within the renegotiation package, with a further 43% only a little familiar with it.”

Ms Cameron added: “With Scottish businesses exporting over £12.9 billion of goods and services throughout the European Union, it is important that any change does not disrupt our ability to continue to trade and grow this market, creating wealth and jobs.

“The UK Government must up its game in terms of communicating with and listening to businesses on this vital issue.

“Business people have our own ideas on what should be among the priorities of the Prime Minister as he embarks on his negotiations and a recurring theme is a stronger role for the member state in terms of determining the local implementation of EU legislation.”

She said the Government’s plans for an EU Referendum have so far had no impact for more than 80% of businesses, but many have flagged up possible implications of any change to the UK’s status within the EU.

More than a third have identified potential negative impacts to growth strategies and import and export strategies as areas of concern.

“This survey will act as a benchmark, enabling us to gauge the awareness, priorities and views from the business community as to the specific reforms to our relationship with Europe which they believe would assist their growth and make business more efficient and competitive, ultimately gaining more orders and creating new jobs,” said Ms Cameron.

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