The majority of business leaders in the UK plan to vote to stay in the European Union, according to two snap polls.
Following the news that Prime Minister David Cameron was successful in his reform negotiations, and that the referendum would take place on 23 June, the Institute of Directors (IoD) found that 60% of business leaders plan to vote to stay in the Union. Less than a third (31%) said they will vote to leave, with 9% undecided.
In a similar snap survey, manufacturers' organisation EEF said just 5% of its members are planning to vote to leave, although a quarter are undecided.
Simon Walker, IoD director general, said the majority of its members had already made up their mind before David Cameron secured his reform deal last week.
He said: “The prime minister has fought hard for this deal and has secured positive changes, in particular on reducing the burden of pointless or excessive red tape. Businesses will weigh up the reforms when considering the pros and cons of EU membership as they decide how to vote at the referendum.
“The issue is, of course, much larger than this agreement. Our members have concerns about the way the EU operates in some areas. But this is balanced against the ability to trade easily across the single market. Their operations are deeply entwined with the European Union – more than three-quarters have commercial links with other member states.”
Terry Scuoler, chief executive of the EEF, said: "These findings show that the majority of our members – of all sizes – are pragmatically pro-EU. There are no rose-tinted spectacles here – our members are fully aware of the pros and cons of EU membership and, on balance, have decided that the UK’s interests are best served by remaining.
“Our findings reinforce the fact that companies, particularly those interested in exporting, do not see the point of the UK cutting itself off from its major market. More importantly, they reject the idea that the UK faces a straight choice between exporting to the EU or expanding its global reach.”