UK prime minister David Cameron was forced to defend his plan to hold a referendum on EU membership as he appealed for the support of business leaders in next year’s general election.
Cameron was the first of three UK party leaders to make his pitch to the Confederation of British Industry’s conference in London yesterday. CBI president Michael Rake, introducing the prime minister, told him that eight out of 10 members would vote to stay in the EU and they strongly support immigration.
“The UK’s membership of a reformed EU is overwhelmingly in our national interest,” Rake said. “By withdrawing from Europe we do not somehow become more open to trade elsewhere; instead we turn inwards, going against the grain of an increasingly connected world.”
The prime minister’s referendum policy means he is, unusually for a leader of the Conservative Party, on the opposite side of the debate from most large business groups. Ed Miliband, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, addressed the CBI yesterday afternoon, emphasizing his own position that a referendum would be destabilizing.
Cameron, who focused the bulk of his remarks on his plans for infrastructure investment, said his was the best plan for keeping Britain in the EU.
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