Siemens gets drawn into debate over U.K. election ad

The U.K. general election campaign began formally this week, and Siemens has become entangled in a controversy over a hard-hitting advert issued by the opposition Labour Party.

The advert, which appeared in the U.K. press on 30 March, featured the following quote by Juergen Maier, CEO of Siemens U.K.: "The prospect of a referendum (over membership of the European Union) that may or may not happen, at a date yet to be decided upon, with a choice between two unknown options, is profoundly worrying for business leaders."

The Labour Party is opposed to an EU referendum proposed by other parties, but a spokeswoman for Siemens said Labour had "overstepped the line," according to a report in the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

"They did speak to us about the quote, which is absolutely fine. The content is something he has spoken about many times," she commented. "But we were not told it would be used in an advert. We were not given any warning. We are apolitical, we don't endorse political parties; we wouldn't have agreed to be in an advert for the Labour Party. The feeling is that they have overstepped the line."

The general election will take place on Thursday, 7 May.

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