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March 18, 2016

CBI to make pro-EU case - backed by members

CBI to make pro-EU case - backed by membersAfter a consultation with members, the CBI says it has a "mandate" to make the case for staying in the EU after 80% of members polled said being in the EU was good for their business.

The CBI membership survey, conducted by ComRes, attracted responses from 773 members among small, medium and large firms across the UK. The results were weighted to ensure the sample was representative of the overall CBI membership, 71% of which are SMEs.

CBI members employ nearly seven million people, about one third of private sector employees.

The survey found that:

  • 80% of CBI members said that the UK remaining a member of the EU would be best for their business;
  • 5% said it is in their firm's best interests for the UK to leave the EU;
  • 15% were unsure.

The survey formed part of a consultation process with the CBI's governance network and culminated in an endorsement from the Chairmen's Committee to allow the CBI to make the economic case for the UK to remain in the EU.

"Having secured a strong mandate from our members, the CBI will continue to play a role in shining a light on the business and economic issues at stake," said CBI president Paul Drechsler.

"The vast majority of our members tell us their businesses have gained from being in the EU," he said. "We have consulted every one of the CBI's councils in the last three weeks, involving firms of all sizes and sectors across the UK. All councils agreed, many unanimously, that the CBI should make the economic case for remaining."

Carolyn Fairbairn (pictured), CBI director-general, said: 
"The message from our members is resounding - most want the UK to stay in the EU because it is better for their business, jobs and prosperity. Walking away makes little economic sense and risks throwing away the many benefits we gain from being part of the EU."

However, Fairbairn conceded that a minority of members wanted to leave the EU and she said that the CBI would not align itself with any campaign. "It is not our place to tell people how to vote but the CBI will play its role in making the economic case for remaining in the EU."

On 8 March, John Longworth resigned as the director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) after revealing that he was in favour of Brexit, at odds with the BCC's neutral position.

Image: CBI on Flickr

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