According to a survey carried out by BGF (Business Growth Fund), the UK's most active provider of long-term growth capital to small and mid-sized businesses. This marks a significant drop on the 82 per cent who, in June last year, said that the UK's membership of the EU is good for British businesses - pointing to growing support for Brexit among the business community.

However, 71 per cent of respondents claim that the UK's membership of the EU gives British businesses invaluable access to European markets while 59 per cent are concerned that an EU exit risks stifling business growth. Looking ahead at the potential implications of a leave vote, 47 per cent of respondents say that Brexit will prompt multinational companies to relocate operations overseas while 71 per cent believe that it will trigger another Scottish independence referendum.

Reflecting frustration with the EU, more than two thirds of respondents (69 per cent) claim that Britain's membership of the EU saddles British business with unnecessary and problematic regulation. While half (50 per cent) of respondents believe that an EU exit would not leave British businesses facing a skills shortage - compared to 35 per cent who think it would.

For the first time the BGF Growth Climate Index identified macro-economic conditions (39 per cent) and instability in overseas markets (22 per cent) as the biggest factors holding businesses back from growth. Only 23 per cent expect conditions for growth to improve over the next quarter (compared to 52 per cent in November 2015) while 44 per cent expect them to stay the same.

Yet despite this, businesses remain focused on growth - 87 per cent said that the objective of the companies they work with is to pursue growth over the next quarter, compared to just 11 per cent who plan to consolidate or remain the same size. This suggests that while uncertainty associated with the upcoming referendum and economic slowdown overseas is increasingly front-of-mind for the British business community; it is not dampening individual business' appetite for growth.

Stephen Welton, Chief Executive of BGF said: "The Growth Climate Index exclusively seeks the views of senior business leaders who are committed to supporting Britain's most ambitious small and mid-sized businesses. While the poll shows an uptick in support for Brexit among the business community, the majority remain in favour of staying in the EU.

"It's also clear that despite uncertainty prompted by the vote, and economic instability overseas, British businesses remain committed to growth. In uncertain times it is crucial that businesses get the support they need to innovate, export, grow and prosper.

"BGF has made a very strong start to the year but we are carefully watching for signs of any slowdown in investment decision making."