British Chambers of Commerce issues second EU referendum clarification

The British Chambers of Commerce has issued a second statement to clarify its "neutrality in the EU referendum", after the business network's boss resigned yesterday after coming out in favour of Brexit.

Clarification: BCC issues FYI on EU (Credit: Rock Cohen via Flickr)
Clarification: BCC issues FYI on EU (Credit: Rock Cohen via Flickr)

The statement published yesterday afternoon on the BCC website, Further clarification of BCC's neutrality in the EU referendum, said the organisation "has taken a neutral position on the EU referendum, and will not campaign for either side", because "views among local Chambers of Commerce and chamber members are diverse".

It went on to say that individual local chambers or their board members or member organisations could take a view, adding: "That’s their prerogative, and the BCC has no input on their decision in this respect. These differences of opinion locally are exactly why the BCC, as a national umbrella body, maintains a neutral stance."

On Sunday evening, news broke that BCC director-general John Longworth had resigned for the organisation after voicing support for the Out campaign. This led to anger among other Out campaigners who speculated that government pressure had been applied on the BCC.

In a lengthier statement posted on Sunday, BCC president Nora Senior said: "John Longworth and the BCC board recognise that John’s personal view on the referendum is likely to create confusion regarding the BCC’s neutral stance going forward. In light of this, John has taken the decision to step down as director-general and his resignation has been accepted by the board with effect from 6 March 2016."

It also said that no politician or interest group had had "any influence on the BCC board decision to suspend Mr Longworth" - the BCC chief had been suspended the previous day.

In separate EU referendum news, the BBC has this morning reported that London Mayor and Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson said that an email to senior staff at City Hall last week advising them not to disagree with him over the referendum was "a cock-up, and not something I agree with".

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