British EU exit campaign backed by 250 business leaders

Sat Mar 26, 2016 6:13pm EDT
 
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By Michael Holden

LONDON (Reuters) - The campaign for Britain to leave the EU has been backed by 250 business leaders including the former chief executive of HSBC, the Vote Leave group said on Saturday, hoping to counter the view that UK businesses back staying in the bloc.

The camps arguing for and against Britain staying in the European Union ahead of a referendum on British membership on June 23 have both made the economic impact of a 'Brexit' a cornerstone of their campaigns.

Last month, the bosses at more than a third of Britain's biggest companies including major oil companies Shell RDSA.L and BP BP.L and its largest telecoms group BT (BT.L: Quote) said leaving the EU would put jobs and investment at risk.

On Saturday, Vote Leave, one of the groups supporting a British exit, unveiled its own list of backers including Michael Geoghegan, former Chief Executive of HSBC Group and Tim Martin, the boss of pubs group JD Wetherspoon JDW.L.

"With our growing list of business supporters, Vote Leave will make that case that whilst the EU might be good for big multinationals, for smaller businesses it acts as a job destruction regulatory machine," Matthew Elliott, Chief Executive of Vote Leave, said.

However, the Sunday Times newspaper reported that two of the well-known names on the list, John Caudwell, founder of Phones4U, and David Ross, the co-founder of Carphone Warehouse, had not signed up.

"You have to question how this list has been compiled," the paper quoted a spokesman for Caudwell as saying.

Vote Leave also said it was forming a Business Council to argue that EU membership was holding back business.   Continued...

 
Union flags and the Big Ben clocktower cover notebooks are seen on sale in London, Britain, Thursday  December 17, 2015. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor