Most business leaders want changes in Britain's relationship with the European Union, with nearly half saying they believed the costs of complying with existing EU rules outweighed the benefits of membership.
The findings came from a new survey of 1,024 firms by YouGov for the Business for Britain campaign, which backs Prime Minister David Cameron's pledge to renegotiate the terms of Britain's EU membership and put it to a referendum.
The businesses surveyed agreed by a margin of 46% to 37% that the costs of EU single-market regulation outweighed their benefits, while 56% said meaningful reform needed treaty changes and a return to a trade-based deal.
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This comes after the report that British businesses had been hit by 3,580 new EU rules under David Cameron's premiership, and DHL Express boss Phil Couchman warned a British departure could be a "backward step".
The pledge of an in/out public vote by 2017 should the Conservatives win the next general election was backed by 66% to 26%.
Chief executive Matthew Elliott said: "It will come as a surprise to many that a nationwide and representative poll of business leaders finds a clear majority support EU treaty change and a return to a trading relationship.
"The reason is clear: most business leaders think the costs of the Single Market outweigh its benefits.
"Now that business has spoken, the pressure is on the Government to get a better deal from Brussels and make life easier for Britain's job creators."
The Ukip leader and MEP is the most famous 'outer'. After his party took over a 100 council seats in May's local election's Nigel Farage is hoping to win the 2014 European elections and then gain MPs in Westminster in 2015. He has confirmed he will seek a parliamentary seat himself.
Margaret Thatcher's former chancellor and a true 'Tory grandee' revealed in The Times that if and when there is a referendum "I shall be voting out". He also stuck the boot into the David Cameron by saying the prime minister's attempts to renegotiate the terms of the UK's relationship with the EU would be "inconsequential".
There are quite a few Conservative MPs who would like to wave goodbye to Brussels. Ken Clarke has said the figure is as low as 30 despite the strong eurosceptic feeling on the backbenches. However the exact number is not clear. Mid-Bedforshire MP <strong>Nadine Dorries</strong>, who remains suspended from the Conservative Party, is currently talk tof the eurosceptic town amid rumours she may defect to Ukip. Other backbench Brexiters include <strong>Bill Cash</strong>, <strong>Douglas Carswell</strong>, <strong>Peter Bone</strong> and <strong>Philip Davies</strong> and former defence minister Sir Gerald Howarth.
Labour's 'Let's Leave' Lot
Most of the anti-EU focus is on the Tory benches. But there are more than a handful of Labour MPs would would like to quit Brussels as well. Eurosceptics include <strong>Frank Field</strong>, <strong>Kate Hoey</strong>, <strong>Austin Mitchell</strong>, and <strong>Gisela Stuart</strong>. Stuart has argued the status quo is "not sustainable" and Britain should leave.
<strong>Rupert Murdoch</strong> has warned that the EU will "sink" the UK. The News International and boss caused a stir when he met Nigel Farage for dinner in London recently and said the Ukip leader was "reflecting opinion" with his anti-EU views. In November 2010 <strong>Richard Desmond</strong>’s <em>Daily Express</em> became the first UK newspaper actively to call for Britain to leave the EU, launching a ‘Get Britain Out’ campaign
I'm A Celeb, Get Us Out Of Here
Of course no campaign is complete without a bit of star power. The pro-EU camp have Eddie Izzard, who do the Brexiters have? <strong>Joan Collins</strong>, a 'patron' of Ukip, wants the UK to leave. "The EU, controlled from Brussels, cares only about itself," she said in March.
The Business Types
Most business leaders do indeed seem content with what Lawson called the "warm embrace of the European single market", but there are a few dissenters. Private equity guys Jon Moulton and Edmund Truell are two and Next boss and Tory peer Simon Wolfson has said: "Britain should stay in Europe, but only on the right terms".
There are a number of loud voices whinnying on the sidelines to say "neigh" to the EU notably Melanie Phillips, Richard Littlejohn, Tom Utley, Simon Heffer. Basically the Daily Mail stable.
Edging Towards Exit
Several high-profile politicians appear to be on the verge of calling for the UK to exit the EU - but just are not there yet. Former defence secretary <strong>Liam Fox </strong>- pictured here with a big gun - has said "life outside the EU holds no terror" should David Cameron's hopes of negotiating a new treaty fail. Education secretary <strong>Michael Gove</strong> is said to have told friends the UK has "nothing to be scared of" by leaving Europe. And many other eurosceptic cabinet ministers, including <strong>Iain Duncan Smith</strong> and <strong>Owen Paterson</strong> are likely to share that view.
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