John Longworth, the director general of British Chamber of Commerce, has resigned after he was suspended for supporting UK’s exit from the European Union. The BCC said Longworth conceded that his support for the Brexit could lead to confusion.
BCC Group President Nora Senior said that the business organisation had taken a neutral stand ahead of the forthcoming EU referendum, which is on June 23. She said that BCC is non-partisan and would refrain from campaigning for any of the sides.
“John Longworth and the BCC board recognize that John’s personal view on the referendum is likely to create confusion regarding the BCC’s neutral stance going forward,” the BBC quoted her as saying. “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.”
She also added that the resignation was, “agreed mutually between Longworth and the BCC Board, and there were no external factors involved.”
At the organization’s annual conference on Thursday, Longworth said that he believes UK would have a brighter future outside Europe. The organization told the members that Longworth was suspended because he breached the organization’s decision to maintain neutrality on the issue.
“I have come to the conclusion that the EU is incapable of meaningful reform, at least in the foreseeable future,” Longworth said. However, Longworth said that the comments on Brexit were made in a personal capacity.
“No politician or interest group had any influence on the BCC Board decision to suspend Longworth. His subsequent resignation was agreed mutually between Longworth and the BCC Board, and there were no external factors involved,” the Independent quoted Senior as saying. “The only views taken into account were those of the BCC Board and the BCC’s owners, the UK accredited Chamber Network.”
The Downing Street declined it put any pressure on the organisation to suspend Longworth.