Big businesses at war in row over future of Britain in Europe

Tim Wallace
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THE CITY can thrive outside of the EU just as it did outside of the euro, campaign group Business for Britain said yesterday, in a spat with rival finance group TheCityUK.

A referendum on Britain’s membership is the best way to force a renegotiation in the UK’s favour, said Business for Britain, which is backed by hundreds of executives from businesses such as Citigroup, J O Hambro Asset Management and Carpetright.

“If EU reform isn’t embraced by the other member states, and Britain votes to leave the EU, it won’t be the death knell of the City, just as it was scaremongering to say that financial services would move to Frankfurt if we didn't join the Euro,” the campaign’s boss Matthew Elliott said.

Its pro-referendum comments came in response to TheCityUK’s new research arguing the UK and the finance sector are better off staying in the EU.

The industry body argues the UK tends to be successful getting what it wants in EU negotiations, and will lose out if the country quits.

“Exit scenarios from Europe risk damage to UK financial services through uncertainty, reduced market access and loss of influence,” said its report, published yesterday.

“Attempts to carve out exemptions for the UK could lead to carve outs in other areas by other member states, fragmenting the internal market.”