Chancellor George Osborne told business leaders last night that they need to “confront some hard truths about Europe”.
In a speech at the pro-European Confederation of British Industry’s annual dinner, Osborne said that the government wants “Britain to be in Europe, not run by Europe.”
“The continent is sleepwalking towards a future where it has priced itself out of the global economy, with its rules and regulations, financial services legislation and red tape,” the chancellor said, adding he wanted to work with business leaders to reform Britain’s relationship with the EU.
Osborne said he would work to stop “ever-closer integration” of the member states while bolstering the single market, promoting more trade agreements and opposing further regulation from Brussels.
He added that business leaders should be wary of forthcoming news reports about negotiations at the EU.
“I’d advise everyone to take all this coverage with a large pinch of salt. The real negotiations will be carried out at the highest level and in private,” Osborne added.
•Airbus president Paul Kahn became the latest business figure to warn Britain against leaving the EU. The firm has 16,000 staff in England and Wales, although he did not go so far as to say these were at risk.