The polling by YouGov for Business for Britain was the first real effort to define what renegotiation could look like. The results are clear: a clear majority of business leaders want to see treaty change, they want to see powers repatriated to the UK – particularly in nine key areas of competence that are currently under the control of the EU – and, most singficantly of all, they want Britain’s relationship with the EU to be based on trade, not politics. This is the real ‘bombshell’ at the heart of our polling. The time has come for British Influence to admit, the best way to prevent Britain leaving the EU is to get behind Business for Britain’s push for a thorough renegotiation.
Matthew Elliott, Chief Executive, said: “The findings of Business for Britain’s poll of UK business leaders demonstrate that business wants to see the burdens of the Single Market drastically reduced and powers returned to the UK Government. This is a major task but one that is achievable as Europe seeks to sure up the Eurozone. It is heartening to see that the CBI has shifted its position from one of supporting Britain's entry to the Euro, to a recognition that changes are needed to the Single Market. A better deal is overwhelmingly supported by the business community and, as an influential voice in this debate, the CBI’s push for EU reform is welcome. With our poll showing that business people clearly want substantial change, it is now up to the Government to make sure Britain gets a better deal, to protect jobs, trade and growth.”
However, a YouGov survey published yesterday by the campaign group Business for Britain found that these views are not set in stone. By a majority of 46 per cent to 37 per cent, the company bosses in question feel that the costs of complying with the single market outweigh the benefits of staying in the EU. By two to one, they also want to see our relationship with Europe based principally on trade, as we thought it would be when we joined the Common Market. Moreover, they seek the return of EU competences in key areas affecting business, something that would require treaty change. These include employment law and working time conditions, environmental regulations, and health and safety rules. Doubtless, many of these companies would prefer to avoid the disruption and uncertainty associated with leaving the EU. But the idea that we should stay in at any price seems to be on the wane.