Senior Tories yesterday hit back at critics of the party’s promise of an EU referendum.
Prime Minister David Cameron denied the move would create business uncertainty, as suggested by Labour leader Ed Miliband, telling the Confederation of British Industry’s annual conference that the idea is unfounded.
And striking back at the Labour leader in an article for City A.M. this morning, Conservative party chairman Grant Shapps wrote that Miliband “is so frightened of the voters, he won’t even use the word “referendum” in his own article on this very subject”.
Praising the coalition’s record on the economy and exports, Cameron said there is no uncertainty around the vote in 2017, but warned that staying in Europe at all costs was a bad idea.
“Simply standing here and saying, ‘I will stay in Europe, I will stick with whatever we have, come what may’ is not a plan. It is not a strategy, it will not work,” he said.
Sir Mike Rake, president of the CBI, appeared to criticise Cameron’s decision to call a referendum, and warned: “Do not be fooled: by withdrawing from Europe we do not somehow become more open to trade elsewhere; instead we turn inwards, going against the grain of an increasingly connected world.”
Charles Rolls, co-founder of Fever Tree drinks appeared to echo this view, telling the conference: “I think it is a no-brainer. We have easy access to the most fantastic market. I hate this idea that we would be better off without it [Europe].”