The leader of the City of London Corporation has come out in favour of Britain remaining in the European Union, on the eve of a divisive vote among the Corporation's members.
"Britain is better off in," Lord Mayor Jeffrey Mountevans said in a speech to City leaders at Mansion House tonight.
Mountevans said the future of London's "commercial heritage" is a "key battleground" in the run-up to the EU referendum on 23 June, adding: "As Lord Mayor, it’s my job to take the City’s temperature. And from where I stand, the view seems clear: for reasons of investment, jobs and market access, Britain is better off in.
"The alternative is years of uncertainty. Renegotiations, trade and investment, all unclear.
Mountevans's comments come just hours before the City of London Corporation's Court of Common Council is set to vote on the motion: "Taking into the account the views of City stakeholders and businesses, the City of London Corporation supports the United Kingdom remaining a member of the European Union."
Members of the Corporation's policy and resources committee voted 17-3 in favour of the pro-EU motion last week, and the Court is widely expected to endorse the committee’s recommendation when it meets tomorrow.
"I hope that my fellow elected representatives will reflect the overwhelming views of city stakeholders and businesses – by voting to support the UK’s continued membership of the EU," Mountevans said tonight.
But many City leaders – including former chancellor Lord Lamont, CMC Markets founder Peter Cruddas and Risk Capital Partners chairman Luke Johnson – have already issue with the Corporation’s decision, saying the non-party political body should remain neutral ahead of the EU referendum.
Yet Mark Boleat, who chairs the Corporation's policy and resources committee, has defended the Corporation's stance, saying Lamont, Cruddas and Johnson represent a "small number" of people in the Square Mile.
In an open letter published in City A.M., Boleat said: "While a small number are calling for the City of London Corporation to remain silent on the issue of the EU referendum we cannot afford to duck this issue.
"When a majority of our stakeholders in the Square Mile, with firms of all sizes across the sectors raising their head above the parapet, then so too should the Corporation.
"There is no doubt that our stance should follow the proper democratic process, which is why this issue will debated at, and voted on, at our primary-decision making body, the Court of Common Council."