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Wednesday, March 31, 1999 Published at 12:11 GMT 13:11 UK

UK poll bashes euro

Nearly two thirds of British businesses want to keep the pound, according to a new survey.

Adair Turner, Director General CBI: Sample unrepresentative
The poll of 1,000 company bosses conducted for the anti-euro pressure group Business for Sterling found only 32% of them backed the European single currency.

It reported 63% of those spoken to wanted to keep the pound.

Business for Sterling claimed the ICM poll was the first on the issue to sample a representative cross-section of the whole business community.

Business for Sterling's chief executive Nick Herbert said: "This survey demonstrates conclusively that the majority of businesses reject the single currency.

[ image: The survey's criteria are criticised by pro-euro campaigners]
The survey's criteria are criticised by pro-euro campaigners
"The claim that business is in favour of the euro was always false. It can no longer be made."

Survey attacked

But the pro-single currency campaign Britain in Europe countered with a review of opinion polls in the last two years which showed a majority of businesses backed UK single currency membership.

And the CBI director general Adair Turner said the Business for Sterling survey included only 100 CBI members with the result "skewed towards small numbers and they claim it's representative".

Mr Turner pointed out Business for Sterling had attacked previous CBI surveys involving 1,700 members.

The CBI was now poised to do a survey of all its direct members and many affiliates, involving some 5,000 people, with the results ready by July.

Mr Tuner went on: "By then we will have a really representative answer rather than this extremely unrepresentative survey they (Business for Sterling) have done."

Mr Turner told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "We have always accepted there is a range of business opinion." Opinion would be affected by the perceived success of the euro over the next few years and associated policies followed in Europe.

Red tape fear

[ image: Adair Turner: Survey's results are
Adair Turner: Survey's results are "skewed"
The ICM survey for Business for Sterling found 89% of firms thought the euro would lead to more regulation, over half believed it would be a weak currency and one fifth would rather adopt the dollar than the single currency.

A total of 73% thought the UK Government's information campaign on the euro was propaganda rather than helping business, and 85% agreed that by making firms prepare for the euro, the government was trying to encourage the public to accept it.

Business for Sterling said the results also cast doubt on the CBI leadership's support for the single currency. The poll found 64% of CBI members, along with 59% of British Chambers of Commerce members, opposed to it.

But the Institute of Directors and Federation of Small Businesses leaderships spoke for the majority of their members when they opposed the euro.

A spokesman for Britain in Europe, the national campaign of businessmen, politicians and trade unionists for the single currency, accused Business for Sterling of being "out of touch, backward-looking and unrepresentative" and of "misrepresenting" British business's views.

"But they cannot hide the fact that poll after poll has shown substantial majorities of UK firms in favour of Britain joining the euro."

The ICM survey for Business for Sterling contacted 1,000 businesses by telephone throughout March. Almost all the fieldwork was completed before the European Commissioners resigned.

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