The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) voiced its support for the UK to stay in the European Union after it found 80 per cent of its members believe staying makes a better economic sense for their business.
CBI, representing 190,000 UK businesses, which together employ nearly seven million people, is one of the largest UK organisations.
In the recent poll carried out by research consultancy ComRes, only 5 per cent of the surveyed CBI members said they believed leaving EU would be in their best interests, while 15 per cent were unsure.
Of the small and medium-sized enterprises 71 per cent expressed the conviction that staying in the EU would be better for them while only 11 per cent backed a British exit (Brexit).
CBI used the survey to make an informed decision about its stance towards the Brexit referendum and decided to back the continued membership in the European alliance. However, the CBI will not register with the Electoral Commission as a participant in the June 23 referendum contest and will not align itself with any campaign.
"The message from our members is resounding - most want the UK to stay in the EU because it is better for their business, jobs and prosperity,” said The CBI's director-general Carolyn Fairbairn.
"Walking away makes little economic sense and risks throwing away the many benefits we gain from being part of the EU. Our members tell us that having guaranteed access to a tariff-free market of 500 million people, and to more than 30 global trade deals covering 50 countries, are significant advantages that outweigh the frustrations.”
The survey gathered 773 responses. 77 per cent of the respondents said they believed remaining in the EU would be in the best interest of the UK economy as a whole while only 6 per cent believed Brexit would be better.
London appeared to be more pro-EU than other regions as 85 per cent of London-based CBI members said staying in the bloc would be in the best interest of their organisation, a figure that dropped to 75 per cent in both the Midlands and East of England.
"Membership of the EU is one of the main reasons Citi's EMEA headquarters is in the UK," said James Bardrick, chief executive of Citi Global Markets, part of the financial giant Citigroup.
"Being in the EU allows us to passport our financial services right across the single market, creating efficient access for our multinational clients operating throughout Union. Were the UK to leave the EU, many firms would probably have to rethink the way they do business, including whether to relocate certain activities."
Paul Kahn, the president of Airbus Group UK also backed staying in the union.
"If the UK exits the EU, there are likely to be significant changes to the regulatory and economic environment with subsequent impacts on our competitiveness,” Kahn said.
"Though Airbus Group remains fully committed to its operations in the UK and to its employees here, we certainly hope the UK will choose to retain its EU membership which helps to ensure the continued long-term success of Airbus Group's European industrial model."
The CBI's decision follows controversy over the British Chambers of Commerce's former director-general speaking out in favour of Brexit.
John Longworth resigned after saying the UK could have a ‘brighter’ future outside the EU, even though the BCC was staying neutral on the referendum issue.