A list of 250 prominent business leaders has backed U.K.’s exit from the European Union (EU), according to a statement by Vote Leave group — a pro-Brexit camp. The list has been published nearly three months before a referendum on whether the U.K. should stay in the EU is scheduled to be held later in June.
The Vote Leave campaign has tried to counter the anti-exit sentiment among businesses after a third of the companies listed on London’s benchmark stock index, the FTSE 100, publicly supported staying in the 28-member bloc last month.
The news was followed by an announcement by Britain’s top business lobby, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), last week, saying that nearly a million jobs could be lost by 2020 if U.K. split ties with the bloc.
“The UK’s businesses and in particular its financial services sector would thrive outside the EU if the country votes to leave,” Michael Geoghegan, former CEO of HSBC, told the Financial Times. Geoghegan was reportedly joined by John Caudwell, the founder of the mobile phone retailer Phones 4u, and Sir Rocco Forte, an English hotelier, in supporting Britain’s exit from EU on Saturday.
“With our growing list of business supporters, Vote Leave will make that case that whilst the EU might be good for big multinationals, for smaller businesses it acts as a job destruction regulatory machine,” Matthew Elliott, Chief Executive of Vote Leave said Saturday. Pro-Brexit campaigners have argued that the U.K. could weather a slide in trade from Europe — a shrinking market for U.K. exports — as the government would be able to draw up new trade deals with fast-growing economies around the world.
However, U.K.’s Business Secretary Sajid Javid, who is supporting Britain staying in the EU, said that businesses could see “we are stronger, safer and better-off in a reformed EU,” according to BBC.