Commenting on today’s speech on Europe by the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon David Cameron MP, John Longworth, Director General at the British Chambers of Commerce, said:“The vast majority of businesses across the UK want to stay in the Single Market, but on the basis of a revised relationship with Europe that promotes trade and competitiveness. It is of critical importance to business and to Britain’s national interest that we have access to the European market, but not at any cost. On this basis, the Prime Minister’s determination to negotiate a new settlement for Britain is the right course of action.
“The Prime Minister must seek an ambitious and far-reaching settlement. We start with a strong negotiating position. We run a trade deficit with the EU, so it is not in Europe’s interest to see the UK go.
“Announcing plans for a referendum on British membership puts the onus on the rest of Europe to take the Prime Minister seriously, as they will now see that he is prepared to walk away from the table. However, the lengthy timescale for negotiation and referendum must be shortened, with the aim of securing a cross-party consensus and the outline of a deal during this Parliament.
“Although EU membership is not the biggest issue facing businesses in a world filled with uncertainty, the Prime Minister must be mindful of the need for pace and ambition. This would help firms across the UK remain confident while negotiations take place.”