Vote Leave, with cabinet ministers
Conservative MPs such as Michael Gove, Chris Grayling, Priti Patel and Iain Duncan-Smith support Vote Leave Getty

A list of 250 business leaders have written a letter in support of Britain leaving the EU – including the former boss of HSBC, the founder of Phones4U, and the president of the Bangladesh Caterers Association.

The letter, published by the Vote Leave campaign, claims that while most of Britain's larger businesses support staying in, some entrepreneurs will be campaigning to leave. The Stronger In campaign countered, however, by saying that the signatories to the letter are all doing it in a personal capacity, and that British industry almost overwhelmingly supports the EU.

Matthew Wlliott, the chief executive of Vote Leave, argued that the EU's worker protection regulations make life harder for small businesses.

He said: "With our growing list of business supporters, Vote Leave will make that case that whilst the EU might be good for big multinationals, for smaller businesses it acts as a job destruction regulatory machine. Brussels hinders smaller businesses, particularly those firms who can't afford to lobby Brussels to curry favour."

Even though Michael Geoghegan, who used to be in charge of HSBC, signed Vote Leave's letter, the bank itself has said it is in favour of staying in the EU, and has even threatened to move 1,000 jobs to Paris if the country votes for Brexit.

The referendum on whether Britain should retain its membership of the EU will be held on 23 June. Last month, a group of executives in charge of 36 of the largest listed companies in Britain signed a similar letter in favour of remaining in the EU. Published in the Times, included the bosses of firms like BT, Marks & Spencer and Vodafone, who said: "we believe that leaving the EU would deter investment, threaten jobs and put the economy at risk. Britain will be stronger, safer and better off remaining a member of the EU."

The CBI, Britain's biggest lobby group for business, also recently backed the EU, after it polled its membership and found that a massive 80% wanted to remain - and that just 5% would support Brexit.