The The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Chairmen’s Committee has taken the final step in endorsing the leading business group’s mandate to make the economic case for the UK to remain in the EU. It comes after the CBI reaffirmed its member mandate following a rigorous governance process through the organisation’s “business parliament” and publication of a new member survey.
A clear majority of CBI member companies – which together employ nearly 7 million people, about one third of private sector employees – believe that it would be in the best interests of their business and the wider UK economy to remain inside the EU. This is according to an independent survey carried out by polling company ComRes.
The survey had 773 responses among small, medium and large firms across the whole of the UK. It reveals 80% of CBI members, when weighted to reflect its membership – including 71% of small and mid-sized business members – believe that the UK remaining a member of the EU would be best for their business. Overall, 5% say it is in their firms’ best interests for the UK to leave the EU, with 15% unsure.
The survey forms part of a thorough consultation process with the CBI’s governance network of three national councils (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), nine regional councils, eleven standing policy and sector committees. This culminated in an endorsement from the Chairmen’s Committee – the CBI’s highest policy making body – which met on Monday. This round of 24 separate consultations has taken place over the last three weeks, with a clear majority in each meeting backing the business case to remain in the EU.
CBI Director-General, Carolyn Fairbairn 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.”
“Our members tell us that having guaranteed access to a tariff-free market of 500 million people, and to more than 30 global trade deals covering 50 countries, are significant advantages that outweigh the frustrations.”
“A minority of members want to leave the EU. We will continue to respect and reflect their views and campaign for EU reform to get a better deal for all businesses.”
“However, most CBI members are unconvinced that alternatives to full membership would offer the same opportunities. We have yet to see those who seek to leave the EU present a compelling vision of what this would mean for jobs and growth.”
“We will not align ourselves with any campaign. Though prosperity, jobs and future living standards matter to many people, we recognise there will be other considerations. 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 securing the CBI’s mandate and its role in the EU referendum, CBI President, Paul Drechsler said “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. We will seek to inform the public debate focussing on the implications for jobs, prices and prosperity.”
“The vast majority of our members tell us their businesses have gained from being in the EU. 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.”
“The referendum is a matter for the British people and it’s clear that the public will base their decision on a range of factors. The business and economic case is only one part of the story, but it is a vital one.”
“The job now for the CBI and business leaders across the UK is to set out the arguments as clearly as possible for the British public. The CBI speaks on behalf of members who employ nearly seven million people and we’re proud to represent entrepreneurs, ambitious growing firms, smaller companies and some of the UK’s biggest employers, spanning all sectors across the UK.”