By Daniel Hunter

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) have released the results of a poll of nearly 2,000 businesses, which suggest that most businesses (85%) do not want further EU integration.

The survey found that only 12% of firms want to leave the EU altogether. Almost half of businesses (47%) want to negotiate a looser relationship but with the UK remaining a member of the European Union. Only 9% of businesses want further integration.

Of those businesses that want to see a different relationship with Europe, over half (55%) see a referendum on EU membership as a medium-term issue, to be dealt with in the next one to five years. Another 40% of those firms would like to see a referendum within the next 12 months.

“These results clearly show that British businesses do not want further integration with the EU," John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said.

"Although only a small proportion of firms hold extreme views on whether to leave or stay, nearly half of companies say they want a renegotiated, ‘looser’ membership within the European Union.

"Nearly four decades after Britain joined the European Community, it is astonishing that British firms seem to feel that the balance of advantage of EU membership is lessening. Businesses are pragmatic: they want to be part of a European single market, but only if it delivers real and open access for British goods and services.

"So the political establishment should tread carefully, and avoid rushed political decisions on the shape of Britain’s future relationship with the EU. Instead, both the government and the opposition should carefully consider how we can get a single market that works for business while ensuring that legislation from Brussels doesn’t damage our economic prospects.”

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