Despite the best efforts of both sides to co-opt the SME vote into one bloc or another, small business sentiment over the future of the UK in the EU remains stubbornly split. With each day bringing new estimates over the impact of a Brexit, the biggest issue appears to be confusion.
As the June 23 referendum draws nearer, one new survey has claimed that a slight majority of UK SMEs are leaning towards a Brexit.
The survey was conducted by a network of independent accountancy firms across the UK, polling their SME clients. The results showed that that 46.1 per cent of (SMEs) would prefer to leave the EU.
Concerns over loss of sovereignity
The study also found that around 13.7 per cent of small businesses believed there was still not enough information about the upcoming referendum on Thursday 23 June 2016 to make a decision, while the remaining 40.1 per cent said they would like the UK to remain in the EU.
In terms of regional variation, there was little obvious pattern – small businesses in Yorkshire appear more enthusiastic about remaining in the EU (43.3% voting in favour), whereas that figure drops to 33.3%.
Paresh Radia, Partner at RDP Newmans, another firm that participated in the study, added: “Those who wished to remain were focused on the potential uncertainty and economic fallout post-Brexit, with a particular focus on loss of jobs and contracts should relations breakdown with the UK’s main trading partners in Europe.”
Brexit fears still real
However, in a contrasting survey conducted by Smith and Williamson, worries over a potential Brexit are beginning to weigh heavier on small business owners. 81% of respondents to Smith & Williamson Enterprise Index felt that Britain leaving the EU would negatively impact their business, up 13% from June 2015.
Guy Rigby, head of Entrepreneurial at Smith & Williamson, the accountancy, investment management and tax group, said: “When we first sought business owners’ thoughts on Brexit, the Conservative Party had just been elected and a potential Brexit felt quite remote. However, as we approach the referendum date, business