Some 78 per cent of businesses would rather that the UK stayed a part of the EU, CBI and YouGov research shows.

The figure came out of a poll carried out among over 400 companies, who between them boast direct employees numbering over 1.5 million.

A low proportion, only ten per cent, felt that if we were to leave the union, this would be in their interests, the figures show.

Most companies (71 per cent) felt being a member had a good effect where their organisation was concerned. That compares to 16 per cent who felt it did not have an impact and to 13 per cent who felt it had a negative effect.

A somewhat smaller 67 per cent of SMEs felt EU membership was good for them, while 16 per cent felt it didn't affect things, and the same proportion said it had a negative effect.

A large 75 per cent of the overall sample felt quitting the union would bring down foreign investment in the United Kingdom, while nine per cent felt it would bring this up.

And 35 per cent felt they would probably decrease their business investment if the UK left, while 51 per cent felt things wouldn't change in this regard, and six per cent said they would increase investment.

The majority of the sample, 59 per cent, felt quitting the EU would harm the UK's international competitiveness (compared to 15 per cent who thought it wouldn't change things and 23 per cent who thought it would improve things).

What's more, a huge 86 per cent were of the opinion that leaving the EU would harm UK businesses' ability to access its markets. On this issue, a mere one per cent felt it would have a good impact.

When it came to EU membership, it was discovered that 76 per cent felt being able to trade products free of trade flow tariffs and taxes was positive for their business.

However, 49 per cent felt efforts to make employment law similar throughout the Union had negatively impacted them (compared to 22 per cent who said this had been positive).

The majority of companies – 72 per cent – felt the UK is able to influence EU policies which impact them, however, 65 per cent felt this influence would lessen were Britain to leave.

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