Confederation of British Industry (CBI) director general Carolyn Fairbairn has hit back after MPs said it was "scandalous" and "intellectually dishonest" for the pro-EU "Stronger In" campaign to be referencing CBI research.
In a letter to Treasury Select Committee chairman Andrew Tyrie today, Fairbairn said CBI research had been "misrepresented" during a committee hearing yesterday.
Former Marks & Spencer chairman and current Stronger In chair Lord Stuart Rose admitted to the Treasury Select Committee that he had not read a widely-cited CBI report claiming Britain's EU membership is worth £3,000 per year to each UK household.
Rose said he had only "looked at the summary of the findings" of the 2013 CBI report, which the Stronger In campaign regularly references.
During the heated session, Tyrie, a Tory MP, accused the pro-EU group was presenting the CBI figures as "fact", when the numbers were actually an inference.
"You're leading the campaign with this number. It's one of the most important components to your case," Tyrie said, adding, "Economists have told us it is intellectually dishonest to persist with these claims."
In her letter to Tyrie today, Fairbairn said the CBI has "undertaken a literature review of credible academic studies into the impact of the UK's membership of the EU on the UK economy". Fairbairn said while the review was initially taken in 2013, it has been updated this year "to take account of new studies in the past two years".
Fairbairn said that by reviewing 14 estimates, the CBI found that the mid-range estimate of the overall impact on the UK economy of EU membership is around four to five per cent of GDP, or £2,700-£3,300 per household.
"We have always the presented the figure as a reasonable range," Fairbairn said in today's letter. "While the range is not intended to be a definitive economic calculation, we fully stand by the methodology used to produce it as an estimate of the broad net benefit of EU membership."