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Top bosses across the motor industry, Sir Richard Branson and the head of the Premier League have all backed the campaign to 'Remain' in the European Union.

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The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said staying inside the EU was key to maintain the UK's influence in the global car market. Sir Richard Branson said a Brexit would be "devastating" for long-term prosperity. And Richard Scudamore, chief executive of the Premier League said it would be "incongruous" for the league's "openness".

"There is an openness about the Premier League which I think it would be completely incongruous if we were to take the opposite position," Mr Scudamore told BBC 5 Live.

In an open letter, Sir Richard Branson said: "Although I've been living in the British Virgin Islands for some time now, I have never stopped caring passionately about the UK and its great people. I am one of the few business people who can remember how difficult it was before the EU was formed."

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said: "Remaining will allow the UK to retain the influence on which the unique and successful UK automotive sector depends."

He warned that leaving the EU would increase costs and threaten jobs in the UK's thriving car industry.

Directors from the likes of Toyota UK, Vauxhall, Jaguar Land Rover and BMW also added their voices to the 'Remain' message. Rory Harvey, chairman of Vauxhall, said: "We are part of a fully integrated European company where we benefit from the free movement of goods and people. We believe not to be part of the EU would be undesirable for our business and the sector as a whole."

Elswhere, the boss of drinks giant Diageo, Ivan Menezes penned a letter to the company's near 5,000 staff in the UK, urging them to vote to stay. He said it would "better for the UK, better for Diageo and better for the Scotch whisky industry that we remain in".

"The EU has so far concluded, or is negotiating, over 50 of these global agreements, many of which provide significant commercial benefits for Diageo," Mr Menezes said.

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