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UK firms back EU membership (but under different rules)

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The British Chambers of Commerce’s (BCC) latest EU Business Barometer, based on a survey of more than 3,200 businesses, shows that most businesses want to remain in the EU, but with specific powers transferred back to Westminster.

More than half of respondents (57 per cent) believe that remaining in the EU while transferring specific powers back to Westminster would positively impact the UK’s business and economic prospects. These have previously included health and safety law, as well as employment law.

The majority (58 per cent) of firms believe that leaving the EU altogether would damage the UK’s business and economic prospects. This is up from the 53.6 per cent seen in Q2.

“British businesses continue to remain pragmatic in the face of ever-escalating confusion from politicians and the media over Europe,” says John Longworth, director general of the BCC. “The majority of UK firms are determined to see a revamped relationship between the UK and the rest of the European Union, with more power exercised from Westminster rather than Brussels.”

Just 7.7 per cent of businesses feel that it would benefit the UK if there were no change to the current relationship, while 41 per cent believe that it would hinder the UK’s economic prospects.

“For the quiet majority of companies, the status quo is simply not an option,” Longworth adds. 

“Nor are the increasingly shrill noises from the hardline pro and anti-lobbies. Ministers must pursue reform and renegotiation as a priority, and ensure that a firm timetable is in place for renegotiation and for any referendum to follow. Businesses need greater clarity in order to plan ahead to invest, and explore international markets both within and outside the EU.”

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