Sir Mike Rake, who chairs both telecoms giant BT Group and the payment processing company Worldpay, has said that he expects Britain to remain in the European Union, even if the forthcoming EU referendum proves to be a closely-contested vote.
“If common sense prevails and the facts can be got in the public domain, the British people are not stupid and will vote to remain,” Rake told City A.M., adding, “Unfortunately, it will be a relatively narrow vote.”
Rake, who stepped down as president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) last year and was until December deputy chairman of Barclays, has long opposed the UK leaving the EU.
Last May, he urged business leaders at a CBI dinner to “turn up the volume” and back the Prime Minister’s reform agenda. This week, speaking exclusively to City A.M. on the announcement that he will serve as the new chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in the UK, Rake said Cameron “has got as good a deal as he is ever going to get”, adding, “It is critical that we can stay in the EU.”
Rake also said he took up his role at the ICC – which will involve promoting and negotiating on behalf of British trade at the inter-governmental level – because he is concerned that a so-called Brexit would hurt UK exports.
“If the very worst would come to the very worst, I think the country would be put in an extremely difficult situation,” Rake added.
“There are very few, if any, alternatives to the European Union,” he said. “Those who want to leave the European have stopped even trying to assert Norway and Switzerland are viable options, because of course they are not.”
The ICC is the world’s largest business group, representing over 6m companies, chambers of commerce and business associations in more than 130 countries.