200 entrepreneurs warn against ‘hugely damaging’ Brexit

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has admitted that the EU has angered many people with its perceived interference
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has admitted that the EU has angered many people with its perceived interference

More than 200 entrepreneurs have thrown their weight behind the campaign for Britain to stay in the EU, warning that the economic shock of Brexit would be “hugely damaging” to the prospects of start-up businesses.

Among signatories to an open letter from Entrepreneurs for In are founders of companies that have rapidly become household names in the online economy, like Skype, Ebookers, Zoopla and Net a Porter, as well as some of the names behind brands including Innocent Drinks, Jack Wills, Yo! Sushi and Domino’s Pizza.

And the Remain camp received a further boost as eight former US Treasury secretaries said in a joint letter to The Times that “a strong Britain inside the European Union” was “the best hope in our view for securing Britain’s future, creating a more prosperous Europe and protecting a healthy and resilient global economy”.

But a former governor of the Bank of England Lord, Mervyn, King said campaigners on both sides of the debate were exaggerating the potential impact of leaving or staying and cautioned against expectations of a “dramatic difference” from either result in the June 23 referendum.

“I think it’s very important that people should not exaggerate the impact, either of staying in or of leaving,” Lord King told the Bloomberg news agency, in comments which came two days after George Osborne released a Treasury analysis suggesting Brexit could shrink the economy by 6%.

“I do worry that people on both sides treating this as a public relations campaign rather than as a debate on the future of our country are inclined to exaggerate because they feel they are selling a position.”

Larry Summers, who served as Treasury secretary in Bill Clinton’s administration, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that Brexit would be “the most isolationist deed in the last century” and would damage Britain’s economic future and standing in the world, as well as reducing the effectiveness of the transatlantic special relationship.

Meanwhile, the EU’s most senior official admitted the 28-nation bloc had lost popularity because it over-regulates and interferes too much in people’s lives.

Answering questions from British MPs in Strasbourg, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said: “I think that one of the reasons that European citizens are stepping away from the European project is that we are interfering in too many domains of their private lives.”