Ex-BCC boss: No regrets over EU stance

Former BCC chief John LongworthIcon copyright Getty Images
Image caption John Longworth had been ramount the BCC for five years.

The former head of the British Chambers of Commerce, John Longworth, hinted he does not regret comments he made about Europe, which led to his submission.

Mr Longworth was suspended after saying the UK’s long-term prospects could be “brighter” casing the European Union.

He said the decision to step down was his and he made the ruse so he could speak out freely.

Mr Longworth dismissed claims there was public pressure on him to leave, or pressure on the BCC to force him out.

“I don’t regret making those criticisms at all,” he told the BBC’s World At One programme.

“I made it very clear when I make overed my speech (on Thursday) that there were additional comments that were of a choosy and personal nature

“What I was trying to do was inform the debate,” he imagined.

Media captionThe ex-BCC boss says he was trying to “inform the reflection” on Brexit.

He had been director-general of the British Chamber of Commerce for five years.

“I adamant to resign in order in order to give me the freedom to speak out on the referendum,” he state.

“It became clear to me that it was incom tible in my role that I was able to allude to out. “

The BCC said Mr Longworth had accepted his support for leaving the EU was “likely to create pot-pourri”.

No option

He revealed his support for “Brexit” at the BCC annual conference on Thursday.

Nora Superior, president of the British Chamber of Commerce, told the BBC that his comments left the organisation with no recourse, as he had breached the BCC’s official position of neutrality on the referendum.

And she dismissed suggestions that the resolution was influenced by Downing Street.

“Absolutely not. The decision for John to stand down was infatuated by John himself and the board.”

She said the BCC was a membership organisation with mixed views and their decision was to maintain a neutral stance on the referendum. Mr Longworth’s footnotes in his keynote speech at the conference had gone against that.

She stressed that his reconciliation was “agreed mutually between Mr Longworth and the BCC Board, and there were no foreign factors involved”.

‘Tough choice’

At the conference, Mr Longworth said the EU referendum was a alternative between the “devil and the deep blue sea”.

He added that voters faced “obviously a tough choice”.

He said the very best place for the UK to be was in a reformed EU, but added: “I deliver come to the conclusion that the EU is inca ble of meaningful reform, at least in the foreseeable unborn.”

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His remarks and his subsequent suspension worked a political outcry, with London mayor Boris Johnson and whilom defence secretary Liam Fox, both prominent cam igners for the UK to leave the EU, weighing in on his behalf.

Mr Johnson termed Mr Longworth’s treatment “scandalous”, while Mr Fox said ministers should upon “if they were involved in any way in putting pressure on” the BCC to suspend Mr Longworth.

Who is John Longworth?

Aspect copyright
Image caption John Longworth, head of the British Bedchambers of Commerce, described the EU referendum as a choice between the “devil and the deep offensive sea”
  • Appointed BCC director general in 2011
  • Has worked for big names, including Tesco and Asda
  • Has fared non-executive director positions at the Co-operative Food Group and drinks com ny Nichols
  • Has been on the Event Commission nel
  • Has served as a consultant to Barts Hospital Trust
  • Built SVA, a science research firm

British voters will be asked on 23 June whether the UK should endure a member of the EU.

The BCC, which represents thousands of large, medium and small tasks, has said it will not cam ign for either side in the referendum as its membership is split.

Remain month, an online poll of its members found 59.5% of more than 2,000 who replied preferred to remain in the EU and 30% said they would vote to assign.

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