The UK’s exit from the European Union (EU) would prompt more than a third of international businesses to reduce their British employment base, according to a survey to be published on Tuesday.
Sky News has obtained the results of a poll of members of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)’s UK branch, which will say that 86% of respondents believe the UK should remain in the EU.
Business leaders from elsewhere in Europe will lend their support to the findings, according to comments to be released alongside them.
Werner Brandt, a board member of companies including Npower’s owner RWE and Deutsche Lufthansa, said: “A potential Brexit not only threatens to break up Europe, but will almost certainly have a significant impact on the world economy.
“The UK needs the EU and the EU needs the UK.
“Hopefully British pragmatism will be decisive in the end.”
Klaus-Peter Muller, vice-chairman of the ICC’s German branch and chairman of Commerzbank, added that a vote to leave would “only produce losers in the UK and across the EU” despite suggestions that Brexit would be advantageous to Frankfurt as a rival financial hub to London.
The results of the survey are likely to be interpreted as a fillip to the Remain campaign with just over two months to go until the referendum on 23 June.
It will broadly chime with warnings from other major business groups, including the CBI, about the risks attached to Brexit.
However, those campaigning for the UK to leave the EU are also likely to point to the ICC’s finding that the same number of companies – 46% – would retain existing levels of investment as cut them if Brexit occurred.
Spanning businesses in 27 countries, the survey will disclose that 35% of respondents intend to reduce the size of their workforces if the UK leaves – although it will not quantify those prospective reductions or name the companies which plan to cut jobs.
More than 225 businesses responded to the poll, which was undertaken in conjunction with the law firm Hogan Lovells.
Sir Mike Rake, chair of ICC UK and a vocal supporter of Britain’s status in a reformed EU, will describe the results of the survey as “crystal clear”.
“International business wants the UK to stay in the EU.
“They think we are better off in the EU and should continue to constructively engage to improve competitiveness and attract foreign direct investment.”