More than 50 business leaders have backed the Lib Dems as the only party which is “speaking for the majority of Britons” by campaigning to stay in the European single market, saying that the Conservatives policy on Brexit is bad for business, bad for the economy and against the wishes of the majority of Britons.
Richard Reed, the co-founder of Innocent Drinks and board member of Britain Stronger in Europe, Dinesh Dhamija, the founder of the Ebookers travel site and the businesswoman Nicola Horlick are among the signatories, calling for Britain to stay in the European single market and customs union.
They have warned, in a letter to The Times, that Britain’s departure from the EU is being run by “hardcore Brexiteers” who have failed to recognise public support for staying in the single market or customs union.
The 53 signatories, who say they intend to vote Lib Dem, include senior players in the investment and IT sectors, two industries that could be hit by a poor Brexit deal. They represent small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) rather than FTSE 100 companies.
“The Conservatives’ failure to even mention a transitional deal threatens Britain’s status as one of the best countries in the world with which to do business,” the letter reads. “While we may not have voted Liberal Democrat in the past and we may not agree with the party on all issues, they are now the only party speaking for business and the majority of Britons on the key issue at this election.”
It comes after the Conservatives scrapped the election tradition of organising a letter signed by business leaders to demonstrate support.
Vince Cable, a Treasury spokesman for the Lib Dems, said: “The Liberal Democrats now have support from a large number of serious figures in the business community showing that we are rapidly emerging as the party of business, big and small. Theresa May’s determination to take us out of the single market would devastate our financial sector while taking us out of the customs union would cause incalculable disruption to our manufacturing sector.”
The full text of the letter is below…
LIB DEMS AND THE SINGLE MARKET
Sir, We represent a broad range of businesses across the UK collectively employing tens of thousands of people. As business leaders and owners, we believe that leaving the single market and the customs union would be destructive to the British economy and to our businesses.
At present, we have full access to a market of 500 million customers and the best and most skilled workers across the EU. If we leave the single market, thousands of businesses would lose their competitive edge.
We cannot stand by while our country’s future is hijacked by hardcore Brexiteers who do not represent the views of the majority. Polls show two thirds of voters believe staying in the single market should be the priority, and three-quarters want EU citizens working in the UK to continue to be allowed to do so.
The Conservatives’ failure to even mention a transitional deal threatens Britain’s status as one of the best countries in the world with which to do business. While we may not have voted Liberal Democrat in the past and we may not agree with the party on all issues, they are now the only party speaking for business and the majority of Britons on the key issue at this election.
The simple fact is that we can’t have both a hard Brexit and a strong economy. We choose a strong economy. That’s why we will be voting for the Liberal Democrats.
David Angell, director, Peter Bennett-Jones, PBJ Management, Roger Billins, director, RB Law Limited, Lee Cameron, Professor Chris Bones, chairman, Good Growth Limited, Simon Clement-Davies, George Coelho, Jeremy Cook, Simon Curtis, senior maritime lawyer, Peter Crystal, senior lawyer, Stephen Dawson, Alex Dale, Guy De Selliers, vice-chairman of group board, Ageas, Dinesh Dhamija, founder, Ebookers, Jay Dias, founder and managing director, Leela Capital, Andrew Dixon, managing director, ARC InterCapital, Craig Fletcher, John Forbes, partner, John Forbes Consulting LLP, Jessica Frankopan, co-founder, Curious Group of Hotels, Kevin Gibson, founder, Hanzo Archives, Stephen Goldstein, chairman, Alexander Stevens, Peter Guilford, co-founder and executive chairman, G+ Europe, Tony Harris, angel investor, Paul Hennemeyer, managing director, Tom Hogg, chairman, Cheshire Datasystems Limited, Nicola Horlick, CEO, Denmark Square Limited, Leslie Hurst, Melissa Johnson, director, Cheshire Datasystems Limited, Phillip Kerle, co-founder, Tranzacta Ltd, Adam Knight, co-founder and board director, Social & Sustainable Capital, Robert Laurence, CEO, Resolution Property, Paul Lucraft, Tilly McAuliffe, co-founder and non-executive director, Think, Carl Michel, chairman, Firedrop.ai, Turi Munthe, partner, Jo Owen OBE, Tim Parlett, co-founder, Zopa, Mark Petterson, executive director, Warwick Energy Limited, Neil Phoenix MBE, founder, FRICS, Alex Proud, CEO, The Proud Group, Professor Nathu Puri, founder, Purico Group of Companies, Richard Reed, co-founder, Innocent, Mark Sainsbury, Rodney Schwartz, co-founder and CEO, Clearlyso, Rahul Sharma, CEO, Careline Lifestyles, Richard Steer, chairman, Gleeds, Peter Tuvey, managing director, Fleximize, Justin Urquhart-Stewart, co-founder and head of corporate development, Seven Investment Management, Madeleine Weightman, co-founder, The Work Crowd, Ben Whately, co-founder and COO, Memrise, Joseph Zammit-Lucia, CEO, Clinical Insights