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Business leaders react to decision on EU referendum


Business leaders have given their reactions to Prime Minister David Cameron’s promise of an EU referendum, with many endorsing the move.


In a letter to The Times, 55 business leaders welcomed the decision as ‘a European policy that will be good for business and good for jobs in Britain.’


The signatories, who include the head of the London Stock Exchange, chairman of engineering firm Rolls Royce and the chief executive of the Kingfisher group, called for ‘a new relationship with the EU, backed by democratic mandate.’


However, others have warned that the plans could create ‘uncertainty’ and prevent businesses from investing in the UK.


‘If you don't know whether Britain is going to be a full positive member of the European Union in five years' time, you'll wonder if you want to make that additional investment,’ commented Sir Andrew Cahn, the former chief executive of UK Trade and Investment.


David Cameron has confirmed that he will offer a ‘simple in-out referendum’ on the UK’s membership in the EU in 2017, should the Conservatives win the next general election.


Commenting, John Longworth of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: ‘The vast majority of businesses across the UK want to stay in the single market, but on the basis of a revised relationship with Europe that promotes trade and competitiveness.’


Meanwhile John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said: ‘The EU single market is fundamental to Britain’s future economic success, but the closer union of the Eurozone is not for us.


‘The Prime Minister rightly recognises the benefits of retaining membership of what must be a reformed EU and the CBI will work closely with government to get the best deal for Britain’.