Better off out

By March 5, 2016February 18th, 2021No Comments


The head of one of the biggest groups representing small and medium-sized firms came out in favour of leaving the EU yesterday.

In a strident attack on the Prime Minister’s ‘deal’ with Brussels, British Chambers of Commerce director general, John Longworth, said the EU remains ‘essentially unreformed’ and is ‘incapable of meaningful reform’.

He added the risks of staying in such a club were ‘as daunting’ as leaving, telling the Daily Mail: ‘I have analysed the facts personally and my view is we should leave.’

The intervention is a bruising setback for David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne, who are desperate to get business leaders to back the In campaign.

Mr Longworth, a former executive at Tesco and Asda, said the Prime Minister’s deal with Brussels ‘fell far short of our expectations’.

He warned that staying in an unreformed EU would leave Britain ‘sitting on the margins’ as the eurozone integrates further.

Saying the UK would have a ‘brighter economic future outside the EU’, he urged business leaders to look beyond any short-term disruption and think about the future they want for their children and grandchildren.

Mr Longworth also pointed out that by 2010, European red tape was costing British business £80bn a year. ‘Since then there have been major costs added by Europe,’ he said.

‘The one thing that Sajid Javid [the Business Secretary] cannot do anything about is European legislation and that is where the bulk of the burden is coming from.’

His comments, at the annual conference of the BCC in London, make Mr Longworth the first leader of a major business group to take on the Prime Minister over the referendum.

Unlike the pro-EU Confederation of British Industry, which is seen as the voice of ‘big business’ and was a supporter of Britain joining the euro, the BCC represents 75,000 small and medium-sized businesses with millions of staff across the country.

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