Campaigners for and against EU membership cannot afford to ignore the voice of small firms, a businesswoman has warned.

Christina Pease, of TaxAssist Accountants in Maldon, said businesses want to see clear and well supported arguments from both sides in the run-up to June 23.

She said the needs of small businesses must be understood and addressed.

Mrs Pease said: “The tug-ofwar has begun, with a 36-signature letter from the bosses of the UK’s biggest firms in favour of staying in Europe grabbing the headlines, and Brexit campaigners pointing out two thirds of FTSE 100 companies had not signed it.

“But those bosses get one vote like the rest of us.

“There are more than five million small private sector firms in the UK and those business owners have strong views and a high turnout record when it comes to voting.

“Campaigners ignore small businesses at their peril. 

“Issues such as free markets, trading agreements, employment legislation, red tape and the overall effect on the UK economy will all play a part in persuading business owners which way to vote.”