Britain Urged to Remain in European Union

Business leaders and other countries want the United Kingdom to vote to stay in the EU.

View of The Shard skyscraper in London, England, April 15, 2012
View of The Shard skyscraper in London, England, April 15, 2012 (Flickr/Johnas)

It seems just about everybody wants Britain to stay in the European Union.

Eight former American treasury secretaries wrote to The Times of London to urge Britons to stay in.

“A strong Britain, inside the EU, remains the best hope in our view for securing Britain’s future, creating a more prosperous Europe and protecting a healthy and resilient global economy,” they argue.

President Barack Obama is expected to make a similar argument when he visits the United Kingdom this week.

It’s not just the Americans. A TNS poll conducted for France’s Le Figaro found that 78 percent of Germans, 67 percent of Spaniards, 59 percent of the French and 54 percent of the Poles want Britain to remain a member of the bloc.


Britain holds a referendum in June on whether to stay in the European Union or leave.

Many businesses want the country to stay in. Being part of the EU gives them access to a market of 500 million potential customers.

Some 200 businesspeople, from the founders of Skype and the British branch of Domino’s Pizza to dozens of tech entrepreneurs, argue in a letter to the Financial Times that leaving would undermine their ability to start companies, innovate and grow.

“Of course the EU isn’t perfect,” they write, “but rather than cutting ourselves off from the opportunities it offers, it is better to be on the inside helping shape the rules of this market instead of just being subject to them.”

Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, told a House of Lords committee this week that withdrawing from the EU would likely be detrimental to Britain’s financial industry. Leaving would make it “less likely that London would retain its position,” he said. It is currently a hub for financial services.

Open minds

As the Atlantic Sentinel argued a few days ago, none of this is likely to change the minds of ardent Euroskeptics.

Former British colonies they hope to trade with, like Canada and India, have already cautioned against an EU exit. So have international organizations, from the International Monetary Fund to NATO. The outers have gone from promising a free-trading future unshackled from continentals to deriding foreign interference in the referendum campaign.

If you dismiss warnings against leaving as scaremongering and think everyone who has thought through the consequences of it must belong to a global elite that is determined to keep Britain down, then the warnings of a Scandinavian-born businessman or even the president of the United States probably won’t persuade you that the benefits of EU membership outweigh the costs and frustrations.

But such remarks may help sway the millions of Britons who tell pollsters they haven’t made up their minds.

Most surveys show a plurality in favor of membership. But between 10 and 30 percent of respondents tell pollsters they aren’t sure yet.

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