The Financial Times:
London businesses have given qualified backing for David Cameron’s stance on Europe on the eve of local elections in which the Conservatives are braced for losses at the hands of the UK Independence party. The majority of London businesses – 52 per cent – said that remaining in the EU under the current conditions of membership would be harmful to their economic prospects. Some 60 per cent, however, said that remaining in a reformed union would be good for business.
Traditionally British business has supported the U.K.’s membership in the EU. Fears of losing access to the EU’s market (unlikely, as it happens, but that’s a discussion for another day) have outweighed irritation at frequently destructive micro-management by Brussels. If that’s beginning to change, it is highly significant. Brits will not vote for an EU exit if business is warning of massive job losses. There’s an analogy to be drawn with Britain’s decision not to sign up for the euro. Originally Brits were told that “business” was broadly in support of U.K. membership of the euro zone. When that was shown not to be true, the tone of the debate shifted in a way that was most unhelpful to those economic geniuses — Tony Blair and the like — pushing the single currency’s case.
And yes, a clear majority of those surveyed did indeed say “that remaining in a reformed union would be good for business.” The problem is that those reforms are not going to be on offer. Business is going to have to choose.
Speaking of having to choose, the FT also notes:
This week Mr Cameron suggested he might introduce a bill in this parliament – not, as expected, after 2015 – to pave the way for a referendum on UK membership.
Handy word, “might.”
EU Referendum’s Richard North translates:
Mr Cameron, it appears, has indicated that he is preparing to hint that he is ready to give serious consideration to thinking about conceding, maybe, that there might be a possibility, sometime, of his schedule permitting him to explore the feasibility of drafting a proposal that might have a chance of going forward, the effect of which will raise hopes that there will be an elevated likelihood of a genuine debate on whether to table a motion suggesting that EU referendum legislation could be placed on the statute book before the next election, or even the one after that