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March 04, 2016

Business groups won't take sides in EU debate

Business groups won't take sides in EU debateThe British Chambers of Commerce, the Forum of Private Business and the Federation of Small Businesses have said they will not pick a side when it comes to the EU referendum.

Instead, these business bodies have pledged to inform the debate and survey members in the run-up to the referendum.

Speaking at this week's annual conference, British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) director general John Longworth said: "We have declared that we will not campaign, but that we will survey member companies, report their views and inform the debate."

But Longworth described the vote as a choice between "the devil and the deep blue sea".

He said: "The people of our country now face a choice between staying in what is essentially an unreformed European Union, with the Eurozone moving off in another direction and with Britain sitting on the margins, or leaving the European Union, with all the near-term uncertainty and disruption that this will cause."

In a statement, the Forum of Private Business (FPB) said: "Everyone has their own opinion and they have a vote by which to express that opinion … it would be inappropriate for the Forum to take a side in this debate".

Meanwhile, a snap poll of 4,000 small business owners by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has found that 42% have not made up their minds about whether to vote to remain in the EU or to leave.

FSB members were also asked how informed they feel about the EU referendum. Just over half (52%) of members say they do not feel informed about the EU referendum, 48% said they need more information on the economic impact on the UK, 38% wanted details on the administrative burden of complying with regulation and 33% asked for more detail on the cost of EU membership.

Mike Cherry, FSB policy director, said:
"It is crucial that once appointed, both the Remain and Leave campaign groups tackle this information deficit. Smaller businesses want to know the practical impact that remaining within or leaving the EU would have on their firms. FSB will be at the forefront of this effort on behalf of our members, to get the information they need before they cast their vote."

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