PROMINENT businessman and former chairman of Motherwell Football Club John Boyle has backed a UK exit from the European Union, claiming it would lave the country economically and politically better off.

Mr Boyle, who now chairs a private equity group, warned against "the dead hand of Europe" and said it was crucial for Britain to retain control over its taxes, immigration and legislation.

Speaking at an event with pro-EU Humza Yousaf, the Scottish Government's minister for Europe, Mr Boyle said: "While you're sitting at the top table (of the EU) Norwegians are fishing the fish and landing the oil and doing everything. If they're not at the top table I don't want to be at it."

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He added: "Because of the EU we can't fish our own waters and we can't mine our own coal because of the environmental constraints."

Mr Boyle, who in the run-up to the 2014 referendum also warned an independent Scotland would be an "economic and social catastrophe", added that it was scaremongering to suggest the UK could not trade with Europe without barriers as the country was a net importer and other countries would still want to sell their goods.

But Mr Yousaf said that while "the sky will not fall in" in the event of a Brexit vote he believed the benefits of EU membership outweighed the costs.

He said Scotland's demographics had been transformed as a result of EU migration which had reversed depopulation and filled skills gaps in the labour market.

The intervention of the entrepreneur comes as pro-Brexit campaigners have been forced to apologise after wrongly including the names of two leading businessmen among 250 signatories to an anti-EU letter.

Vote Leave has removed Carphone Warehouse co-founder David Ross and entrepreneur John Caudwell, who started Phones 4U, from the list of corporate figures.

A spokesman said: "Mr Ross's name was included on our supporters list in error. We apologise for any inconvenience that has been caused."

But he insisted Mr Caudwell, whose spokesman told Sky News he had not put himself forward for the latest initiative, "has been listed as a supporter of the campaign since he signed up in October".

Other backers of the letter, giving their views in a personal capacity, included former HSBC chief executive Michael Geoghegan, JD Wetherspoon pub boss Tim Martin, hotelier Sir Rocco Forte and Luke Johnson, chairman of continental-style cafe chain Patisserie Valerie.

The campaign group also announced that former British Chambers of Commerce director general John Longworth, who quit after indicating his support for Brexit at the business organisation's annual conference earlier this month, has been appointed chairman of its business council.

A survey of small and medium-sized firms commissioned by the group found that 32% said the EU hinders businesses like theirs, while 25% said it helped them, 40% said it made no difference.

Remain campaigners insisted that British business supported a vote to stay in the EU in the June 23 referendum - and pointed to the lack of any FTSE100 executives on the list and the few women.

BT chairman Sir Mike Rake said: "Virtually every poll in recent months has found between 60% and 90% of businesses small, medium and large want to remain in the EU, with only a small minority who want to leave.

"Whilst over-regulation is acknowledged to be an issue, several studies have shown that this is in no small part due to gold-plating by UK regulators.

"Our best course is to remain in the EU, constructively engaging to improve its competitiveness."