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Industry divided over Brexit

The bosses of 36 companies from the FTSE 100, including Marks & Spencer and Asda, are calling for the UK to stay in the European Union.

In a letter to The Times newspaper, around 200 business leaders employing more than 1.2 million people put their support behind prime minister David Cameron that Brexit would put the economy at risk.

Signatories include Asda chief executive Andy Clarke, Ann Summers chief executive Jacqueline Gold, Burberry chief executive Christopher Bailey, Kurt Geiger chief executive Neil Clifford, M&S outgoing chief executive Marc Bolland and Mothercare chairman Alan Parker.

Notable absentees from the letter include the bosses from Next, Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

“This is the single biggest number of business leaders who have been willing to support staying in a reformed EU,” Roland Rudd, treasurer of Britain Stronger in Europe, which organised the letter with No 10’s support told The Times. “What is also striking is the number who have done so on behalf of their companies as well as in a personal capacity.”

The pound fell to its lowest level against the dollar in seven years yesterday but recovered some ground, closing at 1.7% lower at $1.4, the newspaper reported.

Credit ratings agency Moody’s said leaving the European Union would be “credit negative” for the UK economy.

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