Chief executive of Next says European Union must change focus to free trade
The European Union has become “hungry for power” and must be reformed to focus on free trade, the chief executive of high street retailer Next has warned.
Lord Wolfson, a Conservative peer, said that Europe “needs to change” and must be pointed in the “direction of free trade rather than a government of governments”.
The Next boss is part of a group of more than 50 European business leaders backing calls from think tank Open Europe to reform the EU ahead of a referendum in the UK, which is scheduled for 2017.
Lord Wolfson is close to George Osborne, the Chancellor, and has already backed the Governments attempts to renegotiate Britain’s role in the EU.
However, leading business organisations such as the CBI have stressed the importance to Britain’s economy of the country remaining part of the EU.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Lord Wolfson said: “The question about whether we stay in or out depends on whether it changes enough.”
The Next boss said that the EU was an “enormous advantage to business” and Britain’s future role on the continent is “enormously important” for the “everyday life of everybody”.
But he added: “I think the most important thing is the principal – what is the EU there for. Is it a vehicle for greater freedom in Europe – free movement of capital, free movement of good, free movement of services, free movement of people?