Britain should stay in EU to protect economy, CBI says

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The success of the UK economy depends on staying in the EU, the head of the country's biggest business group says.

Confederation of British Industry (CBI) director general John Cridland told the Observer EU membership supported jobs, growth and the UK's "competitiveness".

His comments come after Prime Minister David Cameron lost a vote on the next president of the European Commission.

He tried to block the appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker, who is seen as a backer of closer political union.

EU states voted 26-2 to appoint Mr Juncker on Friday, and Mr Cameron called it a "bad day for Europe".

John Cridland John Cridland says the CBI will try to keep Britain in the EU

Mr Cameron wants to renegotiate Britain's position in the EU before holding a referendum on membership after the next general election.


Some Conservative MPs believe Britain should leave the EU, and on Friday Tory MEP Daniel Hannan proposed a "Swiss-type deal where we are only in the free market and we are outside everything else".

But Mr Cridland opposed this, saying: "Alternatives to full membership of the EU simply wouldn't work, leaving us beholden to its rules without being able to influence them."

He said the CBI, which lobbies the government on behalf of businesses, would "continue to press the case for the UK remaining in a reformed European Union".

"The EU is our biggest export market and remains fundamental to our economic future," he said.

"Our membership supports jobs, drives growth and boosts our international competitiveness."

After Friday's European vote Labour leader Ed Miliband said the UK was now "closer to the exit door" in Europe, posing a threat to the economy, and UKIP leader Nigel Farage said Mr Cameron had been "utterly humiliated".

But Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Mr Cameron had been "brave" to take on Europe and said the debate had now changed.

The leaders of Sweden and Germany offered the PM some encouragement after the vote.

Swedish PM Fredrik Reinfeldt said he knew closer union was not "for everyone", and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was "ready to address British concerns".


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  • rate this

    Comment number 1041.

    The majority of people are not against membership of the EU were it is dealing with trade and completion and having one strong voice when dealing with such matters with the likes of the US and China.

    Where the whole thing has fallen apart is the Federalist imposition of the European Court and the imposition of laws and directives which do not reflect our national psyche.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1004.

    There is more to world trading than 27 EU countries. Asia is where we should be looking to to trade. Over a billion inhabitants in China alone. The EU trades with China and indeed any country worth its while to trade with. In or out the UK would be the same. Only difference is we could trade with every country without petty rules.

  • rate this

    Comment number 877.

    What a surprise of course CBI is going to say we should stay in. Tell me should CBI decide whether we should stay in or is it the voting public who should decide. Thought this was a democracy not a business led autocracy. Sorry Mr Cridland sit down, shut up, and let us decide.

  • rate this

    Comment number 794.

    It seems ridiculous to say we can only trade with the EU if you are in the EU. Bad relations with Europe once we leave will be more of a problem.
    It would be better for Britain to respect what the rest of the EU are trying to do and just say, 'that's not for us', leave and trade with the EU the same as Asia, America and everyone else.

  • rate this

    Comment number 471.

    The issue of European membership has been badly mismanaged by successive governments. The Tories have been split over this for years, hence the emergence of one policy UKIP and Labour have been inept so we've been "hokey cokeying" with our involvement for decades.

    I agree with the CBI, stay in but reform the bureaucracy, none of our political parties seem able to get this simple message across.


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