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Business Wants an EU Referendum to End the Uncertainty

05/07/2013 11:41 BST | Updated 04/09/2013 10:12 BST

Today we will witness one of the less common political phenomena, when large numbers of (predominantly Conservative) MPs eschew their usual Friday trip home to their constituencies, and instead remain in Westminster to debate a Private Members' Bill.

The Bill - being brought forward by James Wharton MP and pushed by the Conservative Party leadership - would place a commitment to an EU referendum on the statute book.

The debate on Britain's membership of the European Union, reignited by the Eurozone crisis, the rise of Ukip and a succession of former and current Tory Cabinet Ministers advocating an 'out' position, has now moved onto the benefits Britain draws from Brussels and the challenges membership poses. And, as happened with the referendum on Scottish Independence, the first question is how a referendum might affect business and the economy.

A poll of 1,000 business people commissioned by Business for Britain found 48% of respondents supported the holding of an in/out referendum on Britain's membership of the EU, compared to 30% who opposed having a vote.

Perhaps more telling, from the same poll a huge 53% of business people thought having a referendum commitment in law would have no significant effect or make no difference to their business, as opposed to 27% who agreed with the anti-referendum groups who claim a vote would produce "damaging uncertainty."

The message from business is clear: the real uncertainty is not the one that might be produced by having a referendum, but the uncertainty caused by not giving the British people a chance to have a say on how the EU has changed since 1975.

In addition, as Business for Britain grows - now with over 750 business leaders supporting the call for a national drive to renegotiate the terms of our membership of the EU - having a referendum on the books strengthens the hands of the negotiators as they go to Brussels seeking fundamental changes.

Business wants change; for jobs, growth and the long-term benefit of Britain.

For that reason, business backs a referendum.