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The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has announced that local chambers, their board members and member organisations will be allowed to publicly express their support for one side or the other in the EU referendum.

It comes just days after the BCC's director general John Longworth was suspended, and subsequently resigned, for airing his views on the debate.

The BCC acts as an umbrella for the local chambers of commerce across the UK, which is why it "maintains a neutral stance", the organisation said.

But it clarified that local chambers of commerce, their board members and member organisations are free to take a public view on the debate. The BCC said: "That’s their prerogative, and the BCC has no input on their decision in this respect. These differences of opinion locally are exactly why the BCC, as a national umbrella body, maintains a neutral stance."

Mr Longworth was suspended after last week claiming that the UK's long-term prospects could be "brighter" outside of the European Union.

BCC president Nora Senior said his public position was "likely to create confusion regarding the BCC’s neutral stance going forward".