A group of 250 business leaders, including the former boss of HSBC, have added their voice to the Brexit campaign, saying that EU membership harms the UK’s economic prospects.
The Vote Leave campaign said the list of business people showed that while many of Britain’s largest companies backed staying in the EU, entrepreneurs would vote in large numbers to leave in the upcoming referendum.
Last month, the bosses of some of Britain’s biggest companies, including budget airline easyJet, defence contractor BAE Systems and oil group Shell, signed a letter in support of the UK remaining inside the European Union.
Among the high-profile supporters of quitting the EU, the Vote Leave campaign listed Michael Geoghegan, former chief executive of HSBC. However, the bank has declared itself in favour of staying in the EU and threatened to move 1,000 jobs to Paris if the vote goes in favour of Brexit.
David Ross, a founder of Carphone Warehouse – now Dixons Carphone, is another prominent supporter despite his co-founder Sir Charles Dunstone backing the remain campaign.
Sir Rocco Forte, the hotelier and son of Italian immigrants, has also put his name on the list of Brexiters, along with John Caudwell, the founder of Phones4U, economist Roger Bootle, Wetherspoons founder and chairman Tim Martin and hedge fund manager Crispin Odey. Martin recently accused David Cameron of using “Paisleyite language” and personal insults in his pro-EU arguments.
Other supporters include Pasha Khandaker, president of the Bangladesh Caterers Association, and the industrialist Damon de Laszlo, who chairs components manufacturer Harwin and the Economic Research Council, which counts other Brexit campaigners on its board such as the Labour donor John Mills and former chancellor Norman Lamont.
The campaign group said it had created new business council to be chaired by John Longworth, who caused a furore last month after resigning as director general of the British Chambers of Commerce following pro-Brexit comments, in contravention of the lobby group’s neutrality.