The president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) will call upon business leaders to speak out on the benefits of Britain’s continued membership of the European Union.
Sir Mike Rake, head of the CBI is expected to use a speech on Wednesday evening to the annual dinner of its members to call upon business leaders to campaign for reforms within the EU.
Rake will sat that whilst the timing for any referendum is a matter for the government, businesses want to stay in a reformed political and economic integrated Europe.
“Business has increasingly spoken out on this crucial issue and the time has come to turn up the volume”, he is expected to say.
“In the months to come, our country will have to make its own choice. A choice between openness or isolation. Between shaping the future or retreating into the past. The question is not whether the UK would survive outside the EU, but whether it would thrive.”
He will say that, “No-one has yet set out a credible alternative future to EU membership. The current alternatives are not realistic options – little or no influence and the obligation to comply with EU principles whilst still paying most of the costs.”
He will say that David Cameron’s re-election with a 12 seat majority in the House of Commons is the “starting-gun” for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU.
There have been calls to bring forward an in-out referendum on the EU, with critics of the 2017 scheduled delivery citing investor uncertainty as a key issue.
On Tuesday, Deutsche Bank announced that it had set up a “working group” to consider whether the Frankfurt-based bank should move its British operations to Germany in the event of Britain leaving the EU.
Deutsche Bank employs around 9,000 staff in the UK and saw annual profits of €1.691bn in 2014.
Ahead of his speech on Wednesday evening, Rake told the BBC Today programme,”We need to remind ourselves that we’re part of a market of 500 million people to which 50% of our exports go.”
“Most businesses and governments want to see a reform that allows us to grow. Reforms can be made that we believe can improve our competitiveness without the need for treaty change.”