UK Prime Minister David Cameron has been accused of plotting to keep Britain in the EU, as leaked letters show Cameron discussed the role of big business in the “Remain” campaign before he had even completed renegotiation of the deal with European leaders.
Eleven days before the renegotiation deal was completed and the EU referendum was formally announced, the prime minister received a letter from Serco chief executive Rupert Soames in which the business leader refers to talks held with Cameron earlier in February.
Soames writes, following up on the meeting, that he intended to urge the Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE) 500 companies to mention the risks of Brexit in their annual reports, based on the letter seen by the Daily Mail.
On February 8, when the meeting was held and the letter was dated, Cameron thought he could still campaign for a “Leave” vote if his renegotiation could not secure the changes he sought.
On February 3, he had told the House of Commons that “I am not arguing – and I will never argue – that Britain couldn’t survive outside the European Union…If we can’t secure these changes, I rule nothing out.”
However in the letter, Soames states, “There were two points I thought I might follow up on. The first is how to mobilize corporates to look carefully at the risks Brexit represents.”
"I am working with Peter Chadlington and Stuart Rose [head of the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign) with a view to contacting FTSE 500 companies who have annual reports due for publication before June and persuading them that they should include Brexit in the list of key risks. All public companies are required to set out in their annual report an analysis of key risks.”
Labor MP Gisela Stuart, chair of the Vote Leave campaign, said the prime minister had “serious issues” to answer, noting that “he has been doing deals with businesses to exaggerate the risk of a vote by the UK to leave the EU.”
She called on Cameron to say “urgently how many businesses he cut secret deals with? Who are they and what were they promised in return?”
Cameron has already warned that leaving the EU would cost Britain billions of pounds and put its security at risk.
He contends that leaving the EU would have a “devastating impact” on future major road, rail and education projects.
The Bank of England had also said earlier that Brexit could push the world’s fifth largest economy into recession.
Opinion polls have indicated that UK voters believe staying in the EU would be best for Britain's economy, but that support for leaving and remaining still remains at a virtual tie.
Britons will vote on June 23 to decide on their country’s future in the European Union.