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Growing support for Brexit among business owners: BCMS poll results

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A new survey conducted by BCMS has revealed that six out of 10 SME business owners want the UK to leave the European Union next month - despite the fact most of them are unsure of the impact on their firms.

The snap poll, conducted online, found 59% intended to vote to leave the EU – 15 points ahead of those who wished to remain on 34%. The result is in stark contrast to earlier polling of UK SMEs, which showed the ‘Remain’ camp comfortably ahead.

Further analysis of the results found significant swings in regional opinion too, with support for quitting the EU ranging from 30% in London to 73% in North East England.

When asked how their businesses would perform if the UK does vote to leave the EU on June 23, the top answer was ‘don’t know’ (37%), followed by ‘better off’ (36%), then worse off (26%). This indicates that the majority want to leave for non-business reasons. 

BCMS CEO Steve Dally said: “Other recent surveys of smaller firms had found broad support for staying in the EU, and given that nearly all the owner-managers who responded are considering the sale of their business, the strength of feeling is surprising.

“Interestingly, the same business owners cite intensifying competition, a red tape burden and skills shortages, as their top three challenges – regardless of which referendum camp they are in.”

The survey results emerged amid fears that uncertainty over the referendum is deterring overseas corporations from buying in the UK. However, BCMS has sold a number of UK businesses since January to acquirers from South Africa, India, and Germany.

Dally added: “Let’s not forget that the UK is one of the strongest economies in the world and we are still the most targeted country in Europe for overseas acquisitions, and there are still plenty of deals going on right up to the referendum and beyond.  

“We have SMEs under offer at the moment with buyers from the USA, Germany, India, and Japan, and the EU vote is a non-issue for long-term, strategic corporate buyers. A good quality SME will always be attractive to larger companies, whether the UK is in or out.”

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Posted May 2016
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