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Vince Cable told an Anglo-American business conference tonight that for all its problems, Europe is the largest trading market in the world.
He said no friend of British business would advocate breaking from Europe, but said there must be reform.
Business Secretary Vince Cable has hit out at the EU referendum Bill, saying leaving the EU will create a lot of uncertainty for millions of British businesses and could threaten the UK's fragile recovery. Branding the move untimely and unhelpful, he said:
"This is just reopening a Pandora's box which potentially is not only damaging to them as a party, but it is damaging to the country."
Conservative MP James Wharton, who will be tabling a bill on having an EU referendum after topping a ballot of MPs today, told ITV News that the issue of Europe "needs to be resolved" before the government moves on to "what really matters."
Conservative MP James Wharton will be tabling an EU referendum Bill as a Private Member's Bill after coming top of today's ballot of MPs, his office confirmed.
Eurosceptic hopes of an EU referendum bill in this Parliament were boosted today after MP James Wharton, who rebelled last night, came top of the ballot for private members bills.
The Tory leadership will today attempt to push forward plans paving the way for a future in/out EU poll by piggy-backing on backbench legislation.
David Cameron was last night dealt a "devastating blow" when more than 100 Conservative MPs backed a vote criticising the Government's failure to bring forward plans to enshrine an EU referendum in law.
A ballot is being held this morning for Private Member's Bills, which party command will seek to use as a vehicle legally to commit to a poll on Britain's relationship with Brussels.
Nearly half of British people would vote to leave the European Union, according to a poll asking the official referendum question.
The YouGov poll for The Sun found 43% of people believed the UK should not remain in the EU, while 37% said it should.
People were asked: "Do you think the UK should remain a member of the EU?"16% said they didn't know, while 3% would not vote.
Other findings revealed two thirds of people think Prime Minister David Cameron's stance on Europe was about short-term tactics, while 55% said UKIP leader Nigel Farage campaigns for policies he believes in.
Foreign Secretary William Hague has denied being embarrassed that 114 Conservative MPs voted in favour of an amendment to the Queen's speech, insisting it was a "free vote".
He added that the "whole [Conservative] party would like to be able to proceed with legislation" for an EU referendum, but that it was constrained by its Lib Dem coalition partners.
Latest ITV News reports
Cameron has pledged to back a Conservative MP's EU referendum bill, as Cable labelled the move potentially 'damaging' for the country.
114 Conservative backbenchers have voted in favour of a eurosceptic motion to amend the Queen's Speech in defiance of the Prime Minister.