ET: Euro revisited--controversial poll says 2/3 UK businesses don't want it : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

ISSUE 1405, Wednesday 31 March 1999

Two-thirds of firms say no to euro, By Robert Shrimsley, Chief Political Correspondent

TONY BLAIR's claims to be speaking for British business in preparing to join the single currency have been undermined by a new survey showing that most UK firms are deeply hostile to it.

The survey of the managing directors or chief executives of 1,000 businesses of all sizes showed that nearly two-thirds would oppose British membership if there were a referendum today. It also showed that the overwhelming majority believed it would lead to more red tape, while most saw the euro leading to higher unemployment, business costs and inflation.

The survey, undertaken by ICM for the Business for Sterling pressure group, was heavily weighted to place greater emphasis on the views of small and medium-sized businesses, which Euro-sceptics point out form the vast majority of firms in Britain. The results showed clear opposition to the euro in all except the largest firms. In spite of the Confederation of British Industry's pro-euro campaign, 64 per cent of its members would vote against abolishing the pound.

But among those firms that said they traded with Europe a lot, 58 per cent would vote to join the euro now. Almost 80 per cent of those on both sides said it would be "hard or impossible" to persuade them to change their mind, with 73 per cent of firms seeing the Government's #7.5 million information campaign as propaganda "to promote the euro and make business more positive towards joining".

Nick Herbert, chief executive of the Business for Sterling campaign, said: "This survey demonstrates conclusively that the majority of businesses reject the single currency. The claim that business is in favour of the euro was always false. The Government has failed in its attempt to swing business behind the euro and now it is clear the CBI is speaking neither for the business community nor even its own members."

The survey was conducted over the past month - after Mr Blair unveiled the Government's national changeover plan, but before the enforced resignation of the European Commission. It highlighted the greater opposition to the euro among the small and medium-sized firms. Mr Herbert said that although some of Britain's largest companies did back the euro, those firms employing 500 people or more accounted for just over a third of jobs.

The survey also highlighted the fact that firms with more than 250 employees account for just 0.5 per cent of the number of businesses in Britain, while small firms with fewer than 50 staff comprise nearly 98 per cent. British firms were split into four categories: those with four or fewer staff; those employing up to 49 people; those with 50 to 249 staff, and those with 250 or more employees.

Their answers were published separately, but were also retabulated to give more weight to smaller firms. Critics from the Europhile European Movement argued yesterday that this had "totally skewed" the survey. A spokesman said: "It is not worth the paper it is written on."

The CBI rejected the findings that related to its members, saying that the numbers polled were too small to be significant. A clear majority of firms saw little or no advantage in any of the benefits normally ascribed to euro membership. However, more than 85 per cent of businessmen admitted to knowing "little or nothing" about the euro.

Cut and pasted by

-- Old Git (, March 31, 1999


Please DO NOT use "ET" unless you are referring to Eric Turner. Otherwise, you will be fouling up all my Internet shortcuts! :-)

-- Robert Sturgeon (, March 31, 1999.

Robert -- You're still around! I thought you'd gone to the hills.

-- Dean -- from (almost) Duh Moines (, March 31, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ