Business Essentials for Professionals

Study Finds Split in Britain’s Small Business Over Brexit


It can be said that there is all to play for during the four months until the referendum in June on the question of staying on or moving away from the EU if the attitude of the small businesses towards the question is taken into account. However many firms have yet to make up their mind whether or not to vote for a British exit (Brexit) from the EU.

42 per cent of small businesses could yet be swayed by either side in the campaign, found a research published this week by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). The study found that more than half of the more than 4,000 small companies were open to persuasion as the research was conducted in the days following David Cameron’s announcement of the referendum.
Even though 47 per cent were for staying in while 41 per cent wanted to leave the EU when the organisation last surveyed its membership in September of last year, the FSB isn’t saying how the remaining 58 per cent said they intended to vote.
Further clues about the leanings of this particular constituency – and whether they’ve changed can be got from the small businesses’ views about what the key issues five months after the last study.
The issue of EU governance would be a key factor in how they eventually vote, said three-quarters of small businesses in the FSB’s research. Since the lack of democracy and accountability in the EU’s decision-making process is a theme with many of its critics, this might be considered good news for the leave campaign.
The key influences cited by 69 per cent and 68 per cent of small businesses were the cost of EU membership and the administrative burden on businesses as a result of EU regulation.
The free movement of people – including labor – would be an influence on how 70 percent of the companies surveyed would vote.  While trade with EU countries will be an influence for 53 per cent of voters surveyed, 64 percent said that the potential economic impact on the UK would be an influencing factor. Both these issues will be arguments on which the remain campaign will aim to major.

Small businesses feel remarkably poorly informed about the EU debate, the study found. There was not enough information with more than half – 52 percent, to make a reasoned decision about which way to vote in June.
“Now the date is confirmed, it is clearly game on for both sides on this debate. It is crucial that once appointed, both the remain and leave campaign groups tackle this information deficit – smaller businesses want to know the practical impact that remaining within or leaving the EU would have on their firms,” says Mike Cherry, policy director at the FSB.
The extent to which small business leaders and their employees make their decision on the basis of such impacts would be an interesting question. The referendum would have little impact on their prospects, irrespective of the final result, said a third of the businessmen in the FSB’s previous research. Therefore this means that those working at such organisations will presumably cast their vote for other reasons.

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