Bri­tish EU exit cam­paign backed by 250 busi­ness lead­ers

The Pak Banker - - 6BUSINESS -

The cam­paign for Bri­tain to leave the EU has been backed by 250 busi­ness lead­ers in­clud­ing the for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive of HSBC, the Vote Leave group said on Satur­day, hop­ing to counter the view that UK busi­nesses back stay­ing in the bloc.

The camps ar­gu­ing for and against Bri­tain stay­ing in the Euro­pean Union ahead of a ref­er­en­dum on Bri­tish membership on June 23 have both made the eco­nomic im­pact of a ' Brexit' a corner­stone of their cam­paigns.

Last month, the bosses at more than a third of Bri­tain's big­gest com­pa­nies in­clud­ing ma­jor oil com­pa­nies Shell RDSA.L and BP (BP.L) and its largest tele­coms group BT (BT.L) said leav­ing the EU would put jobs and in­vest­ment at risk.

On Satur­day, Vote Leave, one of the groups sup­port­ing a Bri­tish exit, un­veiled its own list of back­ers in­clud­ing Michael Geoghe­gan, for­mer Chief Ex­ec­u­tive of HSBC Group and Tim Martin, the boss of pubs group JD Wether­spoon (JDW.L).

"With our grow­ing list of busi­ness sup­port­ers, Vote Leave will make that case that whilst the EU might be good for big multi­na­tion­als, for smaller busi­nesses it acts as a job de­struc­tion reg­u­la­tory ma­chine," Matthew El­liott, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive of Vote Leave, said.

How­ever, the Sun­day Times news­pa­per re­ported that two of the well­known names on the list, John Caud­well, founder of Phones4U, and David Ross, the co-founder of Car­phone Ware­house, had not signed up. "You have to ques­tion how this list has been com­piled," the pa­per quoted a spokesman for Caud­well as say­ing. Vote Leave also said it was form­ing a Busi­ness Coun­cil to ar­gue that EU membership was hold­ing back busi­ness.

That group will be headed by John Long­worth, who quit as di­rec­tor general of the Bri­tish Cham­bers of Com­merce (BCC) lob­by­ing group af­ter he spoke out in favour of leav­ing the EU, ac­cus­ing Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron of try­ing to scare vot­ers into back­ing his case to stay in the bloc.

Mean­while, the Times news­pa­per re­ported that hedge funds were plan­ning to use exit polls to make big prof- its on the day of the ref­er­en­dum.

Un­der elec­toral law, it is il­le­gal to pub­lish the re­sults of such polls while peo­ple are still vot­ing but a pri­vate poll could al­low traders to ex­ploit moves in the cur­rency mar­ket, with ster­ling ex­pected to rise sharply against the dol­lar GBP= on the back of an "In" vote but de­cline if Bri­tons vote for an exit.

Ster­ling fell to multi-year lows this week on a per­ceived rise in the chances of an EU exit, and on com­pa­nies and fund in­vestors hedg­ing against it, though the cur­rency later stead­ied. "There is a lot of in­ter­est around Brexit, par­tic­u­larly from the big U.S. funds," one un­named bro­ker told the Times. The odds of a Brexit nar­rowed on Tues­day as the Brus­sels bomb­ings were seen boost­ing the 'Out' cam­paign.

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