John Longworth, the former head of the BCC (British Chamber of Commerce), has stated that he stands by the comments he made regarding the European Union- the comments later led to him resigning his post.
Longworth had been suspended following remarks he made stating that the UK’s could have a more prosperous future in the long-term and that its outlook may be “brighter” were it not a member of the EU.
He stated that he was not forced to resign and that he had made the decision in order to be able to speak more openly about his views on the matter.
Speaking to the BBC, he said:
“I don’t regret making those comments at all,”
“I made it very clear when I delivered my speech (on Thursday) that there were additional comments that were of a particular and personal nature”
“What I was trying to do was inform the debate,”
Mr Longworth had held his position, director general, at the BCC for five years.
“I decided to resign in order in order to give me the freedom to speak out on the referendum,” he said.
“It became clear to me that it was incompatible in my role that I was able to speak out. ”
The British Chamber of Commerce said that Longworth understood that his position in support of a Brexit was “likely to create confusion”.
The president of the BCC, Nora Senior, said that because Mr Longworth breached the BCC’s official position of neutrality on the subject, the board was left with no choice but to suspend him.
She also denied that Downing Street had anything to do with the decision.
“Absolutely not. The decision for John to stand down was taken by John himself and the board.”
She went on to reaffirm that Longworth’s resignation was “agreed mutually between Mr Longworth and the BCC Board, and there were no external factors involved”.
In the conference at which he made his remarks, Longworth said that the referendum represented a decision between “the devil and the deep blue sea”. He went on to say that the British public were facing an “undoubtedly tough choice”.
He added that: “I have come to the conclusion that the EU is incapable of meaningful reform, at least in the foreseeable future”.