250 UK business leaders back Brexit

Former HSBC Holdings chief executive Michael Geoghegan is among 250 business leaders backing the push for the UK to leave the European Union.

Geoghegan was chief executive of HSBC from 2006 until 2010 and his support for Brexit is in contrast to the bank’s current management. It warns it will send 1,000 staff to Paris from London if voters side with withdrawal in the June 23 referendum.

“With our growing list of business supporters, Vote Leave will make that case that whilst the EU may be good for big multinationals, for smaller businesses it acts as a job-destruction regulatory machine,” said Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the group.

“Jobs, wages, and the economy will thrive when we take back control.”

The group also announced John Longworth will chair its business advisory council. Mr Longworth was suspended from his role as director general of the British Chambers of Commerce for breaching the organisation’s policy of neutrality on the Brexit issue.

Vote Leave also released a YouGov poll of more than 1,000 small and medium-sized enterprises that showed just 14% believe the EU makes it easier for their business to employ people.

With the future of the UK economy at the heart of the debate over whether to stay or leave, each side is seeking to gain the support of corporate executives to promote its case.

Bosses from 36 of the FTSE 100 companies recently wrote to The Times newspaper endorsing continued membership in the bloc. The Confederation of British Industry has said most of its members support remaining.

“The evidence is absolutely clear,” business secretary Sajid Javid said in a statement released by the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign. Every major survey of businesses, large and small, shows a clear majority of firms want to remain in the EU.”

Sir Michael Rake, chairman of BT and a supporter of the In campaign, told the BBC most businesses are in favour of staying in the EU. He said the Leave campaign is “not coming forward” with recommendations on how the UK could operate if it were to leave the union.

“Many of the options that are talked about — Norway, Switzerland, Canada — are not realistic,” Rake said.

They “would require us to have the same commitments, the same free movement of labour, the same migration policies, and pay into the budget as we currently do — without any influence.”

Separately, hedge funds may commission Brexit exit polls to help make profitable currency trades on June 23 before the official result of the EU referendum is declared, The Times reported, citing people it didn’t identify. Traders want to exploit a loophole in electoral law that forbids publication of surveys while voting takes place, the newspaper said.

Bloomberg

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