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Hollande, French companies appeal to Brits not to Brexit

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A Brexit rally in London Reuters/Neil Hall

France's biggest businesses have written a love letter to the British people, pleading with them not to leave the European Union. And, two days ahead of the Brexit referendum, President François Hollande appealed to voters to show confidence in the future of Europe.


"S'il vous plait, amis britanniques remain! (Please stay, British friends). We love you, but we are in business not just in love," reads the letter.

The 34 companies, including tyremaker Michelin, aircraft manufacturer Airbus and telecoms providers Bouygues and Orange, had kept out of the debate but were alarmed by a rise in support for the Leave choice.

Now, with the latest poll showing the two sides neck and neck, they have published an appeal in the Sun, the Telegraph and the Times.

"Our companies invest in the UK and employ thousands all over England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, in every walk of life. We invest because you are a leader in Europe's single market and we all trade freely within the EU," it continues.

If Britain votes to leave, it will lose access to the European single market and the companies say their investment depends on the UK being "firmly and lastingly anchored within the single market".

"Britain is Great. But to remain attractive to businesses you need the ingredients of that greatness: market access and open trade," they comment, concluding "For you, for us, for all of us: please don't leave."

The head of the French bosses' union, Medef, also called for the British to stay with Europe Tuesday.

"If Brexit passes, we'llbe in a phase of uncertainty and instability," Pierre Gattaz told journalists.

Hollande calls for confidence in Europe

At a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Petro Porochenko, who is on a visit to Paris, Hollande appealed to the British to make the choice that "is the most confident in the future of Europe with the United Kingdom".

"Several times I have repeated how attached we were to the idea that the British people, in line with the choice they made years ago, might stay in Europe," he said. "We want a Europe that stands beside Ukraine and we are counting on a wise choice by the British."