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EU referendum: CBI president Paul Drechsler says business leaders 'should' go on the record on where they stand

The CBI speaks on behalf of 190,000 business in the UK, representing one-third of the UK private sector workforce

Hazel Sheffield
Thursday 03 March 2016 09:27 GMT
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Paul Drechsler, President of the CBI addresses delegates at the annual Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference in central London, on November 9, 2015.
Paul Drechsler, President of the CBI addresses delegates at the annual Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference in central London, on November 9, 2015. (Getty)

Paul Drechsler, the president of the Confederation of British Industry, has said that business leaders should go on the record on where they stand on the EU, though he understands why many business leaders will choose not to.

“I don’t think as business leaders we can hide from it, but that doesn’t mean people want to go on the public record saying what they support. I think people should, but I understand why they won’t,” Drechsler told the Independent.

The CBI speaks on behalf of 190,000 business in the UK, representing one-third of the UK private sector workforce.

Drechsler said that it isn’t the role of business to tell people how to vote, but it is the duty of business leaders to make sure employees understand what the EU means for investment and jobs.

“I also think it’s our role to inform customers,” he said.

His comments come as BMW has written to Rolls-Royce car factory workers to warn about the risks of leaving the EU, igniting the debate over the role business should play in informing and influencing voters.

Factory workers at Rolls Royce have been sent an email from their German bosses at BMW that sets out the risks of a vote to leave the EU.

BMW bosses that that the company derives from the free movement of people in the EU.

The letter, published in full below, emphases the importance of free trade to businesses.

While the UK imports more cars from Europe than it exports, the balance is reversed at BMW, which exports 80 per cent of the Minis and Rolls Royces it makes in the UK.

“It’s nothing to do with cheap labour, we’re a very skilled workforce,” Ian Robertson, a member of the board at BMW, told the BBC. “Britain is an international trading nation, Britain is a very important member of the EU and those are the things we’d like to continue.”

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