Only one per cent of business leaders want Britain out of the EU

Guy Bentley
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Captains of industry sceptical of EU withdrawal (Source: Getty)

Campaigners fighting to get Britain out the EU could face opposition from business leaders that would make Ed Miliband blush.

New polling from Ipsos Mori shows that just one per cent of Britain's senior executives want Britain to up sticks and leave the EU all together.

The survey looked at executive board-level directors and chairmen from 100 financial companies by capital employed, and the top 500 industrials by turnover.

But while there was a distinct lack of enthusiasm for all-out Brexit, there was significant support for major reforms of the EU.

Almost half of the captains of industry wanted Britain to be part of a European economic community but not part of a political project. The same number of respondents were happy with Britain's relationship with the EU as it currently stands.

By far the most popular aspect of the EU was the ease of cross-border trading and the easy access to the world's largest single market of consumers. The EU's open labour market with free movement of people also came out as one the greatest benefits businesses derive from the status quo.

UK bosses were not, however, universally positive about the EU's current form.

The worst aspect of the EU by far was changes to, and the barrage of, regulation that emerges from Brussels year after year. Almost 80 per cent of business leaders think the level of EU red tape is damaging the British economy.

The eurosceptic group Business for Britain warned last month that EU financial regulation was benefiting the Eurozone at Britain's expense.

Even more worrying for europhiles, looking to the longer term, the respondents were worried by the uncertainty surrounding the future of the Eurozone and the economic outlook for the continent.

The number one reform priority for British businesses is simplification of employment law. Further down the list was the harmonisation of EU and UK regulation and cuts to regulation general.

The Conservative Party has promised a negotiation of Britain's EU membership followed by a referendum if they win the General Election.

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