A survey of more than 1,000 UK SMEs shows a split among Britain’s entrepreneurs over the forthcoming EU referendum, with 51 percent in favor of a Brexit and 49 percent voting to stay.
The poll, by flexible workspace provider, Instant Offices, surveyed 1,089 companies across the UK. 70 percent of the respondents were from firms of up to 10 employees, while 12 percent came from firms with 50+ employees.
Among the UK’s largest cities, the division among Britain’s SMEs was more pronounced with 58 percent of firms in London wanting to stay in the EU, the predominant reason being that the country risks being sidelined if it leaves.
But in Manchester, a robust 61 percent will vote for a Brexit with only 39 percent in favor of staying, citing better border control and more employment opportunities for British people as the key reason to leave. A similar majority of 63 percent in Birmingham would also vote to leave.
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Large majorities in Edinburgh (72 percent) and Bristol (64 percent) would vote to stay in the EU, with the largest proportion of SMEs in each stating that the risk of isolation in Europe was the key reason to stay.
Tim Rodber, CEO of Instant Offices, said: “The response from the SMEs surveyed was rapid, with more than 1,000 responses within a matter of hours to the poll on our site. Across the country as a whole, we place hundreds of UK SMEs in office spaces each month and have yet to see demand curtail ahead of the Brexit.
“However, we can see that the country is divided by the potential Brexit with different regional markets showing more concern than others, with London firms seeking to stay in the UK but the 2nd and 3rd largest cities wanting to leave.”
As for the top reasons for leaving the EU, among those supporting a Brexit, 27 percent believe that Britain’s SMEs would benefit from being free of the EU’s perceived red tape. The same proportion also agreed that Britain would save a substantial amount of money by leaving, while 23 percent believe that with better border controls in place, British people will have more employment opportunities.
Of those in favour of Britain remaining in the EU, 31 percent believe that the country risks becoming isolated and side-lined on its own, while 26 percent state that preventing free movement within EU countries is a disadvantage. With 24 percent concerned that British businesses won’t be able to remain competitive, 20 percent also believe that millions of jobs are at stake with a possible Brexit.
The EU referendum will take place on 23 June 2016.