UK busi­ness chief re­signs, ac­cuses Cameron of EU exit hy­per­bole

The Pak Banker - - MARKETS/SPORTS -

The for­mer head of a prom­i­nent Bri­tish busi­ness lob­by­ing group, who quit his post be­cause he sup­ports Bri­tain's exit from the Euro­pean Union, ac­cused Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron of scare­mon­ger­ing in com­ments pub­lished on Mon­day.

Bri­tish Cham­bers of Com­merce (BCC) di­rec­tor gen­eral, John Long­worth, re­signed late on Sun­day af­ter he breached the group's neu­tral stance on the in-out ref­er­en­dum to be held on June 23 by say­ing that the EU was in­ca­pable of mean­ing­ful re­form and Bri­tain could have a bright eco­nomic fu­ture out­side the bloc.

Af­ter his res­ig­na­tion was an­nounced, Long­worth crit­i­cized Cameron, who ar­gues Bri­tain's na­tional se­cu­rity and eco­nomic sta­bil­ity would be at risk if it votes to leave the 28-coun­try trad­ing bloc. "It is highly ir­re­spon­si­ble of the govern­ment of the coun­try to be ped­dling hy­per­bole," Long­worth told the Daily Tele­graph news­pa­per in an in­ter­view pub­lished on Mon­day. "If the govern­ment keeps ped­dling the line that it will be a disas­ter if we leave, which it ac­tu­ally won't be, they are go­ing to put the coun­try in a po­si­tion where it will be dam­aged if we do."

BCC pres­i­dent Nora Se­nior an­nounced Long­worth's res­ig­na­tion say­ing his per­sonal views on the ref­er­en­dum were "likely to cre­ate con­fu­sion re­gard­ing the BCC's neu­tral stance". Long­worth's com­ments mark the lat­est spat in what is be­com­ing an in­creas­ingly di­vi­sive bat­tle over the coun­try's fu­ture in the EU. Polls show pub­lic opin­ion is finely bal­anced and the is­sue has split se­nior mem­bers of Cameron's cab­i­net, pit­ting him against pop­u­lar Lon­don Mayor Boris John­son. The Sun­day Tele­graph had ear­lier quoted an un­named friend of Long­worth say­ing Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron's of­fice had put pres­sure on the board to sus­pend him, prompt­ing a back­lash from 'Out' cam­paign­ers who said the govern­ment was try­ing to si­lence those who fa­vor leav­ing the bloc.

John­son, the 'Out' cam­paign's most high-pro­file backer, said it was "scan­dalous" that Long­worth had been forced to step aside for what he said was a "a pas­sion­ate op­ti­mistic view". Con­ser­va­tive law­maker and for­mer De­fense Sec­re­tary Liam Fox, who is also cam­paign­ing for 'Out', said it was in­ap­pro­pri­ate to use "the ap­pa­ra­tus of the state" to put pres­sure on those ex­press­ing their per­sonal views.

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