Support for the U.K. leaving the European Union is increasing among business people, according to a survey that will boost the Brexit campaign with polls showing the debate finely balanced ahead of next month’s referendum.
About 54 percent of “senior” business people said they’ll choose to remain in the 28-nation EU in the June 23 vote, the British Chambers of Commerce said Tuesday in an e-mailed statement. That’s down from 60 percent in February, with support for a “Leave” vote rising to 37 percent from 30 percent.
“As the EU referendum campaign enters the final straight, the race for the business vote has clearly tightened,” BCC Acting Director-General Adam Marshall said.
The “Leave” campaign has consistently lagged behind “Remain” supporters in rallying the voice of business behind its cause. Britain Stronger in Europe, the official campaign group for an “In” vote, has said that more than 80 percent of businesses — including small-and medium-sized ones — support the U.K.’s continued membership of the EU.
With last week’s local and regional elections out of the way, both sides of the Brexit debate are stepping up the rhetoric in an effort to influence the outcome of the referendum. Prime Minister David Cameron and former London Mayor Boris Johnson delivered speeches Monday in a clash of the biggest names on each side.
The BCC surveyed more than 2,200 business people in April for its survey, and found that only 11 percent of respondents said they might change their mind before the referendum. The “Remain”-“Leave” divide was 60 percent to 33 percent for exporters and 43 percent to 46 percent for companies not exporting, it found.