South West businesses concerned about the risk of leaving the EU

By Anita Jaynes on 24 June, 2015

Almost 1,000 firms in the West of England, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Swindon responded to Business West’s Local Business Survey on the European Union referendum during the period May 25 to June 16.

  • The significant majority of firms believe that leaving the EU would pose a risk to the UK economy (81%), and their business (66%).
  • Almost two thirds of local businesses (61%) would vote to stay in the EU if the vote was today, compared to 24% that would vote to leave.
  • If a future negotiation of terms made the relationship more beneficial to the UK economy 76% would vote to stay compared to just 10% that would vote to leave.
  • 58% of firms feel that they need more information before making an informed decision on EU membership.

Commenting on the results of the survey, Phil Smith, managing director of Business West, said: “The South West business community is sending a clear message to politicians: leaving the EU poses a risk to both the economy and our day to day trade.

“The figures coming out of our Local Business Survey are significantly supportive of our membership of the European Union, with the majority of firms stressing their intention to vote to remain in the union if the vote was today. If David Cameron can secure reform with further concessions for the UK economy, support would sharply rise with an overwhelming 76% voting to remain in the European Union and just 10% voting to leave.

“Add to that the fact that four of out five businesses tell us that that cutting ties with our largest international trading body would pose a risk to the national economy, and you see the potential damage that leaving the EU could create.

“Strikingly, two thirds of businesses surveyed believe that leaving the European Union could pose a direct risk to their own business, demonstrating that for many South West firms the referendum is not an abstract question, but one with real and personal consequences.

“Another important theme to come from the survey was the need for a better informed debate with more detailed information about the costs and benefits of the European Union. Businesses want clarity, and an informed debate based on a cool headed assessment of the consequences for the economy, not a decision based upon emotion.

“There is no doubt that this one of the most significant political events of our lifetime. The referendum will be of profound importance to the UK and to South West businesses.

“It is no secret that the EU isn’t perfect, with many local firms telling us that they want to see action taken to address burdensome regulatory barriers during the renegotiation period. However, the clear message is that leaving Europe would be a risk and that staying in is the strong preference of the majority of the business community.”

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Pictured above: Phil Smith managing director of Business West