EU referendum: British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) hits back at claims over government interference in John Longworth's resignation

Lauren Fedor
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Former BCC director general John Longworth (Source: Getty)

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has rejected reports that the government played a role in the initial suspension and ultimate resignation of its former boss, John Longworth.

In a new statement out this morning, a BCC spokesperson said: "No politician, official, or external interest had any influence on the BCC board’s decision to suspend John Longworth on Friday, following the BCC annual conference.

"The only views taken into account around the decision to suspend Mr Longworth were those of the BCC board and those articulated to the board by the BCC’s owners, the UK accredited chamber network.

"Mr Longworth subsequently offered his resignation, and this was agreed mutually between Mr Longworth and the BCC board on Sunday night.

"Once again, there were no external factors involved."

Downing Street refused to deny yesterday that Number 10 officials contacted the BCC over former director general John Longworth's euroscepticism, and the Daily Mail reported today that a senior aide to Prime Minister David Cameron had contacted the ex-BCC boss after he said Britain would be better off outside the European Union.

The BCC said Sunday night that Longworth had stepped down as director general of the business group with immediate effect.

Longworth was first suspended from the role last week after backing Brexit.

The BCC has repeatedly said it will not campaign for either side in the run-up to the EU referendum on 23 June.

A recent BCC survey of its members found that 60 per cent would vote to remain in the EU, while only 30 per cent would vote to leave.

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