UK Prime Minister David Cameron and his key advisors including Sheridan Westlake, Daniel Korski and Ed Llewellyn have urged the UK business leaders not to speak out in support of staying in the EU, because the government believes that any positive comment in favor of remaining in EU from any leading UK business can imperil Britain’s sensitive renegotiation of terms of membership in EU ahead of the Brexit Poll.
A close ally of the prime minister said that the UK administration had been clear in its message to business leaders, telling them to “Shut up until the government completes the renegotiations with the EU.” UK companies and business organisations based both in and outside the UK have been warned and asked to stay silent during the renegotiations that stepped up a pace when the UK prime minister visited Portugal and Spain last week.
I found a recent poll in a leading UK newspaper which found 43% of the participants in support of exit from EU against 40% backing the status quo, suggesting a major move towards Euroscepticism.
The government seems to be in real concern that if the businesses speak out in support of staying in European Union, it may damage Britain’s ongoing renegotiation process in addition to potentially turning public opinion against continued EU membership. A close ally of Mr Cameron said that the prime minister felt any public statement on Brexit by any leading UK business right now would be “Counterproductive”.
Mr Cameron is expected to make significant progress in the renegotiation process with EU in December in a meeting of European Council. If he fails to come to a consensus with EU in that meeting, he will get another chance to complete the process in March 2016- at the next European Council summit. This will pave the way for the poll in June or September next year.
The strict instruction of “Shut up on Brexit Poll” comes from Downing Street at a time when both Yes and No campaigns on Brexit Poll are gearing up to launch.
Although most business leaders and organizations have remained silent over Brexit Debate, several top business figures including the chief executives of Siemens UK and JCB, the construction machinery company, have spoken about different aspects of Brexit.
This is not the first time pro-European businesses in UK have been rebuked by the government. The newly appointed business secretary, Sajid Javid, suggested the ardor for continued European Membership by CBI could jeopardize the whole renegotiation efforts made by the prime minister.
The over enthusiasm shown by several leading businesses wanting to stay in the EU still may not show the actual mindset of most businesses in UK, as many are divided in their appreciation of the different advantages and disadvantages of an exit from EU. Although the Brexit Poll is still a long way to go, things can change quite quickly and can make the job of prime minister very difficult, and that is why Mr Cameron and his advisors have no other choice other than keeping the pro-EU businesses silent over the Brexit Poll.