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CBI attacks leading Leave campaigner

Gove EU claims ‘misleading’ says CBI

Carolyn FairbairnThe CBI has accused Michael Gove, the UK Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, of “wilfully misleading” claims that a large number of businesses want to the leave the European Union.

Mr Gove made his comments BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. He said the UK could pull out of the EU’s single market without damaging trade.

He said Britain will quit Europe’s single market if the country votes to leave the EU. Mr Gove, the Leave campaign’s most senior figure, said the UK would not be “punished” for leaving the EU by having tariffs placed on its exports.

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said: “It is wilfully misleading to suggest that a large proportion of businesses want to leave the European Union – every business survey bar none, across all sectors and of all different sizes of business, shows a majority wanting to stay in the EU.

“Eighty per cent of the CBI’s members have said their businesses would be more successful within the EU, and only 5% want to leave.

“Organisations representing sectors as diverse as manufacturers, car makers, aerospace and defence to financial services, tech start-ups, farmers and healthcare, across the length and breadth of the UK, paint a similar picture.

“In a world of growing protectionism and economic uncertainty, it is cloud cuckoo land to believe that the UK could easily walk into free trade agreements with the EU if it left the single market, and businesses know this.”

Simon Walker IoD

The Institute of Directors today reveals that the vote in support of the EU among business leaders is widening as the 23 June vote nears, though concerns remain about the way it operates.

Simon Walker (above), Director General, says: “Companies don’t have a unanimous view on the referendum. However, our survey shows business leaders more than 2 to 1 in favour of remain with the gap widening as the vote nears.

“IoD members have extensive business links across the European Union, importing and exporting, and employing EU citizens. They value access to the single market and the skills of workers from across the bloc. Increasingly, these economic arguments seem to be pointing company directors towards remaining an EU member.

“That said, IoD members are concerned about the way the EU operates, with three-quarters saying it is over focused on top-down policy solutions. If the EU and individual member states do not initiate reforms to make themselves more competitive, British business leaders think the future will be one of economic decline.

“Dealing with Brexit would be a challenge for most directors, who think it would have a negative impact on trade, research, and access to skills. However, more members than not think the UK could ultimately make an economic success of leaving the EU, in particular believing that it would have a positive effect on employment red tape.

“In the event of a vote to leave, IoD members are split on the best trading arrangement for the UK. Their favoured option is the Norwegian model, with access to the single market, but still being subject to EU regulations, and allowing free movement of labour. A looser relationship, falling back on our membership of the World Trade Organisation, was also a popular choice.

“It is hard to forecast the exact future shape of a post-Brexit deal, and much would depend on the attitude of the remaining EU members. There are grounds for concern here: companies believe the rest of the EU would react mostly negatively, rather than positively, to Britain at the negotiating table.”

The IoD surveyed 1,224 members on their views on the UK’s relationship with the European Union between 13-28 April.

When IoD members were asked how they would vote in February, immediately following the Prime Minister’s reform deal, 60% said they intended to stay in the EU, against 31% who planned to vote to leave. By the end of April, the figures had moved to 63% against 29%.

Voting intention



For the UK to remain as a member of the European Union



For the UK to leave the European Union



Don’t know



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