British business backs EU stay - but Cameron talks key


Most businesspeople want Britain to remain in the European Union, but only if the Prime Minister seizes more power from Brussels, a new poll has suggested.

Almost two thirds (63%) said they would vote to remain in the EU if the referendum took place tomorrow, while just over a quarter (27%) would opt to leave and one in 10 are undecided, according to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

But that picture could change dramatically based on the outcome of David Cameron's talks with the EU, with half of those polled saying their vote could change based on the concessions he brings back from Brussels.

BCC director general John Longworth claimed the poll highlighted the need for a shift in the balance of power.

"Businesspeople want more clarity on the Prime Minister's renegotiation plans before they have their say on Britain's future," he said.

"They are demanding a real shift in the balance of power between the UK and Brussels in any deal. Clear safeguards for the UK - and greater decision-making here at home - are at the top of their priority list."

A separate poll by eurosceptic campaigners Business for Britain suggested a more strident anti-European stance, with almost three quarters of small business (SME) leaders wanting the UK to take back power to negotiate its own trade deals.

Only a quarter said they agreed with the Single Market rationale, it found.

Shore Capital chairman Howard Shore, who commissioned the poll, claimed "EU interference" was putting people off starting more businesses in the UK.

"If I had to establish my business in today's regulatory environment, with so much interference from the EU in the way businesses operate, I am not sure it would have been possible," he said.

Elsewhere, Nigel Farage has claimed that Britain has a 50/50 chance of leaving the European Union and warned Ukip that he will devote all his time to campaigning in the in/out referendum.