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Business leaders warn UK's David Cameron that pulling out of the EU would be bad for economy

Top U.K. executives are warning Prime Minister David Cameron that he could damage the country's economy by inadvertently taking the country out of the European Union.

In a letter published Wednesday in the Financial Times, Virgin Group's Richard Branson, London Stock Exchange head Chris Gibson-Smith and eight other business leaders are challenging Cameron's plan to renegotiate the U.K.'s membership terms of the 27-country EU and put the matter to a referendum. The executives warn that such a plan could fail, pushing the U.K. out of the EU and hitting business.

Tough economic times are forcing the 17 EU countries that use the euro to move ever closer — creating a more powerful union that could affect how much non-euro members spend — something Britain's leaders are against.