The UK's fastest growing businesses are overwhelmingly in favour of staying in the European Union, according to private equity firm ECI.

The survey, which focuses only on fast growth businesses - or 'gazelles' as they're referred to in the research, found that 91% of those leaping 'gazelles' want the UK to stay in the EU following the referendum. Just 6% said they were in favour of leaving the EU.

More than half (53%) said that leaving the EU would actively damages their business.

Danny Alexander, former chief secretary to the Treasury, said: “ECI’s research gives us clues as to why fast growing businesses, the real drivers of our economic recovery, are so overwhelmingly pro-Europe. Exporting businesses see Europe as a key market. Firms facing skills shortages can recruit across the EU.

“Many foresee the negative consequences of Brexit for their businesses. To thrive in a competitive global economy, I believe that Britain needs to be fully engaged in Europe.”

Industrial sectors were the most skeptical about staying in the EU, with 23% saying they would support an exit. That figure dropped to just 5% in the financial services sector and 1% in tech and telecoms.

By region, Scotland and the north east were the most Eurosceptic, with London and the North West being the regions most supportive of EU membership.

Charlie Johnstone, Partner at ECI Partners, said: Our sixth annual growth survey shows that UK gazelles continue to battle with serious obstacles including widespread skills shortages, and the impact of the strong pound. They must also contend with growing uncertainty around the planned referendum on EU membership.

“However there is plenty to celebrate too. Productivity is improving and access to finance is easier than ever, and it is particularly welcoming to see that high growth businesses increasingly see private equity as a valid source of finance."