Business leaders will today back David Cameron’s efforts to reform Britain’s relationship with the European Union and urge the Prime Minister to do more to support small firms.
The Institute of Directors (IoD) said just 15 per cent of its members would vote for Britain to leave the trading bloc if a referendum was held, but there is a “broad appetite” for power over areas such as corporate governance and employment law to be repatriated away from Brussels.
IoD director-general Simon Walker is expected to tell the organisation’s annual convention that “Europe has lost its way” and too many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) get tied up in red tape. He will say: “As business leaders I believe we must make the case for a reformed, more equitable relationship – but one that still has Britain at the heart of European influence.
“Reform is possible, if the political will exists. The IoD stands four-square behind the Prime Minister in his bid to renegotiate the terms of UK membership.”
Cameron has promised an “in-out” referendum by the end of 2017 if the Tories win the 2015 election, and a recent poll by the CBI found almost eight out of ten companies would vote to keep Britain within the EU.
According to the IoD’s survey of 1,326 members, 49 per cent are in favour of staying in the union, with a third saying their decision would depend on any renegotiation of power.
But Walker is expected to tell his audience that the single market “does little” for those in the services industry, such as carpenters or insurance brokers.