Britain leaving the European Union would "harm business interests", a major survey of UK businesses has found.
Over half (58%) of UK firms surveyed by the British Chambers of Commerce said that Britain withdrawing fully from the EU would have a "negative business and economic impact", an increase from 53.6% in the second quarter of 2013.
The rest of the 3,249 businesses surveyed were sceptical about the benefits of a 'Brexit', with just 13.2% believing it would have a positive impact, a similar amount to those who thought it would have no impact (13.3%).
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British businesses mostly (57.2%) want to remain in the EU and back David Cameron's plan to claw back extra powers from Brussels.
They also oppose further political integration (41%), with fewer than one in ten (7.7%) saying it would benefit Britain.
BCC director general John Longworth said: “British businesses continue to remain pragmatic in the face of ever-escalating confusion from politicians and the media over Europe. The majority of UK firms are determined to see a revamped relationship between the UK and the rest of the European Union, with more powers exercised from Westminster rather than Brussels.
“For the quiet majority of companies, the status quo is simply not an option. Nor are the increasingly shrill noises from the hardline pro and anti-lobbies. Ministers must pursue reform and renegotiation as a priority, and ensure that a firm timetable is in place for renegotiation and for any referendum to follow. Businesses need greater clarity in order to plan ahead to invest, and explore international markets both within and outside the EU.
“For all the public bluster, our survey shows that business continues to support the Prime Minister's objective of a renegotiated settlement with safeguards for the future and a reformed Europe. For this to be successful the European Union must believe that the UK is serious in its desire for change. The Prime Minister should be given the support, time, space and patience required to negotiate a credible deal in Britain’s national interest.”
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.