A group of prominent British business leaders have backed the campaign for the UK to remain as a member of the European Union.
Following the recent confirmation that the planned referendum on the country's continued EU membership will be held in June 23rd, an open letter has been published in the Times highlighting the impact that a so-called "Brexit" would have on the nation's international trade prospects.
Organised by Stronger in Europe and Downing Street, the letter has nearly 200 signatories, including the bosses of companies such as BT, Asda, AstraZeneca, Centrica, Rio Tinto, Rolls Royce, Unilever, Virgin, Marks and Spencer, Santander and many others.
In the statement, it was warned that leaving the EU could deter investment to the UK, limit the creation of jobs and place the recovery of the economy at risk, while cutting the country off from key international trading partners and creating unnecessary barriers to importing and exporting.
Support was also expressed for prime minister David Cameron's recent efforts to renegotiate the UK's standing within the EU, which aimed to strengthen the country's autonomy and sovereignty and remove some of the bureaucratic burdens imposed by Brussels, while maintaining the country's membership of the bloc.
The letter said: "We believe that Britain is better off staying in a reformed European Union. He has secured a commitment from the EU to reduce the burden of regulation, deepen the single market and to sign off crucial international trade deals.
"Business needs unrestricted access to the European market of 500 million people in order to continue to grow, invest and create jobs."
The Confederation of British Industry's most recent survey of its members have also indicated that the majority are in favour of remaining as a member of a reformed EU, rather than leaving entirely.