The City of London Corporation has today signed off on supporting Britain remaining in the European Union, rejecting calls from Corporation members and other City leaders to remain neutral in the run-up to the EU referendum on 23 June.
According to a statement issued this afternoon, the Corporation's main decision-making body, the Court of Common Council, voted "overwhelmingly" today to back the following motion: "Taking into account the views of City stakeholders and businesses, the City of London Corporation supports the United Kingdom remaining a member of the European Union."
City A.M. understands that members of the Court debated the issue for many hours, in a back-and-forth that lasted longer than most normal proceedings.
A Corporation spokesperson told City A.M. that there was no division, or official count, among Court members, because the number of hands raised in favour of the motion far exceeded the number of hands raised in opposition.
After the vote, Mark Boleat, who is policy chairman at the Corporation, said: "The City of London Corporation cannot afford to remain quiet on the biggest issue facing the UK at the moment.
"When City firms of all sizes and in different sectors, who we represent, are voicing their concerns about the risks of leaving the EU, we need to make sure the City of London Corporation remains relevant to our stakeholders.
"While we might be criticised for taking such a stance, we need to speak up and encourage others to follow suit."
Members of the Corporation's policy and resources committee voted 17-3 in favour of the pro-EU motion last week, and the Court had been widely expected to endorse the committee’s recommendation when it met today.
But many City leaders are likely to take issue with today's decision. Figures including former chancellor Lord Lamont, CMC Markets founder Peter Cruddas and Risk Capital Partners chairman Luke Johnson have repeatedly warned the Corporation against taking a stance, saying the non-party political body should remain neutral ahead of the EU referendum.
Alex Deane, a managing director at FTI Consulting and member of the Corporation who urged the Corporation to take no stance, told City A.M. after the vote: "I will continue to personally campaign for Leave - nd I look forward to closely watching to see that Mark Boleat observes his promise given in the debate not to spend any City money on the issue, a pledge I know swayed many voting today."
Deane is director of the City for Britain eurosceptic campaign group.
The Corporation's head, Lord Mayor Jeffrey Mountevans, came out in favour of the UK remaining in the EU last night.
"Britain is better off in," Mountevans said in a speech to City leaders at Mansion House.