Top businessmen urge Britain to stay at heart of EU

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A group of top businessmen said on Tuesday that Britain should do all it can to ensure the viability of the euro and remain closely involved in EU decision making to protect the single market.

In a letter to the Daily Telegraph newspaper, they said: "It is in Britains interest that the euro survives and we therefore should do everything we can to ensure the necessary steps are taken to guarantee its viability."

They also stressed that the EU single market was of "great importance" to Britain, with the government estimating that three million jobs rely on exports to Europe, and London must remain engaged with Brussels to strengthen it.

"Protecting the single market has to be the bedrock of our re-engagement with Europe. We are more likely to achieve this by remaining closely involved in the EU decision-making process," the letter said.

Signatories include Virgin Group chairman Richard Branson, Royal Dutch Shell deputy chairman John Kerr, Nomura vice-chairmen Andrew Cahn and Guy Dawson, Rio Tinto chairman Jan du Plessis and WPP chief executive Martin Sorrell.

The letter follows British Prime Minister David Cameron's decision earlier this month to block an EU treaty enshrining new measures to tackle the debt crisis in the eurozone, prompting other EU nations to reach a deal without him.

Britain's isolation in Brussels increased further on Monday when it deferred a decision until the new year on committing funds through the International Monetary Fund to help stabilise the single currency.

Other signatories to the letter include Anthony Salz, executive vice-chairman of N M Rothschild & Sons, BT chairman Mike Rake, Eurostar chief executive Nicolas Petrovic and ex-European trade Commissioner Leon Brittan.

© 2011 AFP

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