The director general of the British Chambers of Commerce has been suspended after he called for Britain to leave the European Union, against the wishes of most of the organisation's members, the Financial Times reported on Saturday.
The newspaper said John Longworth had told reporters on Thursday the UK would be better off exiting the 28-member bloc, comments directly at odds with the majority of BCC members who want to stay in, according to its own research.
The FT said that after an emergency board meeting on Friday Longworth was suspended for breaching the BCC's official position of neutrality on the issue.
The BCC, which represents thousands of British businesses, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Britain will hold a referendum on whether to stay in the EU on June 23. Polls suggest about a fifth of voters are undecided though betting odds indicate Britain will stay in the world's biggest trading bloc.
In his speech at the BCC's annual conference on Thursday Longworth had said the organisation was not going to campaign on either side of the EU debate but gave his "personal observations."
"In the long run we have the capacity and capability to create a bright, if not brighter, economic future outside of the EU just as we would have done had we had the opportunity to stay in a truly reformed Europe," he said.