Press Releases

74% of business Leaders Show Support for the UK’s membership of the EU

19 December 2010

Press Release


Business for New Europe commissioned an Ipsos MORI poll on business leaders’ views about the possible side effects of the UK withdrawing from the EU.

The results of our poll received this week showed that 74% of business leaders believe the UK’s withdrawal from the EU would be damaging compared to 22% who do not. This is in sharp contrast to polling released earlier this month by AngusReid which showed that 48% of a sample of the general public polled would have the UK withdraw from the EU with only 27% saying they would vote to stay in (compared to 42% vs. 35% in June this year).


In response to this, Roger Carr (Chairman of Centrica and CBI President elect – not on behalf of the CBI) said “Economic conditions in Europe are challenging but it remains a major UK trading partner. Britain must strive to be more competitive and continue to press for further liberalisation. You cannot effect change from the sidelines and thoughts of abandonment should not be contemplated.”


Sir Richard Branson said “Britain’s membership of the EU is absolutely critical. It ensures we have a large and valuable free market to trade in. It brings stability to Europe whereas every generation before mine was at each other’s throats. The legislators should have made the rules stricter over the amount of debt individual countries were allowed to accumulate when joining the Euro. I’m sure they’ve learnt their lesson and it will be fixed for the future. The EU needs to ensure the difficulties of the past few months and months ahead will not happen again.”


Sir Martin Sorrell said "At difficult times like these, there's a natural and understandable tendency for electorates and, as a result, politicians to turn inwards and become protectionist and isolationist. It’s often a popular attitude at election time. We should, however, resist these temptations and focus on the trade and growth opportunities that the EU offers - free trade, a large market of 450 million consumers which can grow even bigger and closer connections with the central and eastern European powerhouses of Germany, Poland and Russia. The only concern is to avoid and reduce the regulatory and bureaucratic straightjackets."


Notes to Editors


1. IPSOS Mori technical note: This report presents findings of the 2010 study of Captains of Industry, widely acknowledged as the authoritative source of opinion on Britain's business elite. Respondents are executive board-level directors only. Companies are from: FTSE 350; top 500 industrials by turnover; and top 100 financial companies by capital employed. A total of 102 respondents took part. Fieldwork took place from 9 September to 10 December 2009. 94 interviews were conducted face-to-face and 8 by telephone. Where results do not sum to 100%, this may be due to computer rounding, multiple responses or the exclusion of don't know categories


2. Those polled were asked the following question. To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statement? “If the UK were to leave the EU, it would damage UK business.”


Strongly Agree: 41%

Tend to Agree: 32%

Neither: 5%

Tend to Disagree: 16%

Strongly Disagree: 6%

No opinion/ don’t know: 0%


3. The Angus Reid poll referred to above can be found at


4. BNE is a coalition of business leaders articulating a positive case for reform in Europe. The Chairman of BNE is Roland Rudd.


5. The members of BNE's Advisory Council are as follows:


Lord Brittan of Spennithorpe (Vice Chairman, UBS Investment Bank)

Lord Browne of Madingley (Managing Partner, Europe, Riverstone Holdings)

Roger Carr (Chairman, Centrica)

Richard Cousins (CEO, Compass)

Guy Dawson (Vice Chairman EMEA, Investment Banking, Nomura)

Charles Dunstone (CEO, Carphone Warehouse)

Walter Gubert (Vice Chairman and Chairman Europe, Middle East & Africa, JP Morgan Chase & Co)

Chris Gibson-Smith (Chairman, London Stock Exchange)

Sir Philip Hampton (Chairman, RBS)

Lord Kerr of Kinlochard (Deputy Chairman, Royal Dutch Shell)

Lord Marshall of Knightsbridge (Chairman, Nomura International)

Paul Marshall (Chairman, Marshall Wace)

Brian McBride (Managing Director,

Sir John Parker (Chairman, National Grid)

Vijay Patel (CEO, Waymade Healthcare)

Stuart Popham (Senior Partner, Clifford Chance)

Sir Mike Rake (Chairman, BT)

Anthony Salz (Executive Vice Chairman, Rothschild)

Paul Skinner (Non Executive Director, Standard Chartered)

Peter Smitham (Partner, Permira)

Sir Martin Sorrell (CEO, WPP Group)

Lady Barbara Thomas Judge (Chairman, UK Atomic Energy Association)

Bob Wigley (Chairman, Yell Group)

Bill Winters (Member, UK Independent Commission on Banking)


6. For further information contact Phillip Souta, BNE’s director on .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call +44 (0)78 8788 6437.

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