Brexit – which firms are in favour of Britain leaving the EU?

Who backs Brexit? It’s an important question not just for those voting but also for the companies with links to the UK. Whether based in Britain or not, businesses clearly have a stake in the outcome of the June 23rd poll.

So which companies and business leaders are in favour of Brexit and which want to stay?

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For

In March, the Vote Leave campaign group published a list of 250 business leaders backing a Brexit. By May more than 300 entrepreneurs and company heads had signed a letter in the Telegraph in support of the leaving the EU.

Among the leading voices are Phones 4u founder John Caudwell, the hotelier Sir Rocco Forte and Luke Johnson, chairman of Patisserie Valerie. Others include JD Wetherspoon founder and chairman Tim Martin and Emma Pullen, MD of the British Hovercraft Company

Backers of Brexit tend to be smaller firms with few from the largest FTSE-listed companies in support of Vote Leave.

The letter to the Telegraph states: "Year-on-year the EU buys less from Britain because its economies are stagnant and millions of workers are unemployed. According to Mervyn King, the former Bank of England Governor, the Euro ‘might explode’. Brussels' red tape stifles every one of Britain’s 5.4 million businesses, even though only a small minority actually trade with the EU.”

Against

Around 200 business leaders signed an open letter in The Times earlier this year calling for Britain to remain in the EU.  Among the biggest firms against Brexit are HSBC, Unilever and BP.

Leaders of EasyJet, Credit Suisse, BT, Vodafone, Asda, Marks & Spencer, Airbus, AstraZeneca, BAE Systems, and Ryanair also put their names to the list.

The letter said: “Business needs unrestricted access to the European market of 500 million people in order to continue to grow, invest, and create jobs. We believe that leaving the EU would deter investment, threaten jobs, and put the economy at risk. Britain will be stronger, safer, and better off remaining a member of the EU.”

In total, around one-third of FTSE 100 bosses signed the letter, signalling that a significant portion of big business wants Britain to stay in the EU.

Businesses across Europe have also voiced support for Remain side. Siemens, Commerzbank and French advertising group Publicis are among the leading

We can also look to the donation from several big US banks.

Citigroup and Morgan Stanley donated £250,000 each to the Britain Stronger in Europe group, while Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan gave £500,000 each.

Indifferent?

But not every business is taking a strong stance on the topic. Increasingly, evidence suggests firms are indifferent about what the outcome.

The latest poll from ICSA: The Governance Institute shows just 43% of firms polled think Brexit is “potentially damaging” – significantly down from the 70% who said the same in December. Meanwhile just half (49%) of boards have even considered the implications of the UK leaving the EU.

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