EU referendum: BT bosses and union leaders back Remain

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BT bosses and union leaders are sending a joint letter to staff saying they want the UK to stay in a reformed EU.

The firm’s chairman and chief executive and the leaders of the CWU and Prospect unions, which have members among BT’s 81,400 staff, say the vote will have a big impact on the economy and company.

They say it is up to staff how they vote in the EU referendum on 23 June but urge them to cast their ballot.

Vote Leave said talk of a “reformed Europe” was “meaningless and hollow”.

In other referendum developments:

The BT letter, which will be emailed to employees on Monday morning, says the referendum is so important that the signatories feel they had a duty to explain their views.

The signatories are BT chairman Sir Michael Rake, chief executive Gavin Patterson, Communications Workers Union (CWU) deputy general secretary Andy Kerr and Prospect national secretary Ben Marshall.

Workers’ rights

The letter says there has already been a slowdown in investment and economic activity because of uncertainty surrounding the referendum.

It points out that most independent experts have said there will be an economic down-turn if Britain leaves the EU, lasting several years, and that would also hit BT, one of the UK’s biggest companies.

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Sir Michael Rake favours remaining in a reformed Europe

It highlights that about 20% of BT’s sales are outside of the UK and that membership of the EU means that import taxes and other trade barriers are kept to a minimum.

The EU has also helped to protect workers’ rights and prevent a levelling down of employment laws, it says.

The letter encourages staff to vote in the referendum whatever their point of view.

‘Utter failure’

Earlier this year Sir Michael was one of the 36 bosses of big UK companies who signed a letter the the Times newspaper saying an EU exit would deter investment.

The firms, all FTSE 100 firms, also included Marks and Spencer and Vodafone. At the time Leave campaigners pointed out that two-thirds of FTSE 100 firms, including Tesco and Sainsbury, did not back the letter.

Earlier this month JCB chairman Lord Bamford wrote to his company’s 6,500 employees in the UK to explain why he favours a vote to leave the European Union.

And on Saturday entrepreneur Sir James Dyson told the Daily Telegraph Britain would gain more from leaving the EU than it would lose.

Responding to the letter to BT staff, Matthew Elliott Chief Executive of Vote Leave said: “Sir Mike Rake backed the euro and opposed a referendum as did Gavin Paterson. They never even wanted their employees to have a say on this issue.

“Likewise their talk of a reformed Europe is meaningless and hollow – everyone knows that renegotiation was an utter failure that achieved nothing.

“If we really want to take back control of our economy, our democracy and our borders then we have to Vote Leave..”

EU referendum: BT bosses and union leaders back Remain

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