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CBI president dilutes message on EU membership

Paul DrechslerCBI president Paul Drechsler admit that the organisation is not speaking with one voice on EU membership when he addresses the annual conference.

Mr Dreschsler will, concede that some members are demanding Britain leave the EU.

Nonetheless, he will press the case for Britain staying in the EU and will defend the CBI’s role in presenting its arguments.

He will tell delegates tomorrow: “Whilst there’s no uniform view on the subject – neither within the CBI, nor among the wider business community, the majority of CBI members want to remain in a reformed EU.

“The majority of our members think that – on balance – the advantages of EU membership outweigh the disadvantages.

“And when we see the reforms the Prime Minister achieves – and expects to achieve over time – we will ask you again for your views.”

Responding to recent attacks on the CBI’s role in the EU debate, Mr Drechsler will say: “The great British public deserves a debate based on a sober analysis of the arguments, not heated attacks on those making them.

“Yet over the last week we’ve seen a series of systematic and sustained attacks with one aim – undermining the credibility of the CBI to speak for you – our members.

“Our critics are saying we’re EU funded…0.6% of our income does come from the European Commission, which chooses to use our top-quality economic surveys as part of its work to collect robust economic data from across Europe.

“Our critics say our 2013 survey doesn’t represent the full spread of the business community. That’s right. It was a member survey – although the respondents employ 1.5 million people between them.

“We’re proud to represent businesses of all sizes – from 140 Trade Associations made up of mostly smaller firms, to medium-sized businesses and most larger FTSE players.

“We’re proud to champion businesses from all sectors – brewers, engineers, creative industries – and indeed farmers.

“And we’re proud to speak for businesses employing nearly 7 million people – about one third of the private sector workforce.

“So whilst some think we should be quiet, we know we have a legitimate right to speak out – loud and clear – on all the issues that matter to our members.”

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