NEARLY eight out of ten companies would vote to keep Britain within the European Union if a referendum was held today, according to a poll by the CBI and YouGov.
Firms fear that an exit would affect access to trading markets and business investment, leaving the UK less competitive.
More than 400 businesses that together employ in excess of 1.5 million staff responded to the survey, with just 10 per cent thinking their company would be better off outside the EU.
John Cridland, CBI director-general, said: “This sends a clear message that most CBI members, big and small, support UK membership of the EU. Firms want what is best for jobs and growth, and there is genuine concern that an exit would hit business investment and access to the world’s largest trading bloc.”
He added: “The UK should take the lead on the push for reform and make sure rules are evenly applied across the EU. Businesses are also concerned about the UK gold-plating legislation from Brussels.
“Businesses have serious concerns about the EU, but ultimately they want the UK inside the tent winning the argument for reform.”
In January Prime Minister David Cameron promised voters a straight in-out referendum on EU membership if his Conservative party wins the next general election, scheduled for 2015.
Reports earlier this week suggested Labour was considering offering a similar vote on staying in Europe, a policy that could be unveiled later this month at the party’s autumn conference.