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UK employers group CBI says 80% of members want to stay in EU

[LONDON] Eighty per cent of the Confederation of British Industry's members want Britain to stay in the European Union, the employers group said on Tuesday, responding to critics of its pro-European stance.

Anti-EU campaigners said last year that the CBI misrepresented the views of British business.

Ahead of an in-out EU membership referendum on June 23, the CBI said a survey of its members found just 5 per cent thought leaving the EU would help them, a boost for Prime Minister David Cameron who wants Britain to stay in the bloc.

Four out of five member firms said being in the EU was in their interests while 15 per cent were unsure, according to the poll conducted by market research firm ComRes between Feb 22 and March 7.

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Among smaller businesses - which are less likely to export to Europe and often find EU regulations harder to comply with - the proportion wanting to leave was only 11 per cent.

This is much lower than for the British population as a whole. Opinion polls have shown around 40 per cent of voters on each side, with about 20 per cent undecided.

Last week the director-general of another employers group, the British Chambers of Commerce, resigned after he went public with his anti-EU views. The BCC, which mostly represents smaller firms than the CBI's members, wanted to remain neutral.

The CBI said it would promote the economic case for Britain to remain in the EU, but would stop short of formal campaigning.

Ahead of Scotland's independence referendum in 2014, several of the CBI's Scottish members quit the body when it formally registered with Britain's Electoral Commission to campaign to keep Britain united.

REUTERS

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