Surprising views on the EU from small businesses


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When it comes to the EU, conventional wisdom holds that big business would rather the UK stayed in, while smaller firms, tired of a vexatious bureaucracy and its addiction to never-ending spools of red tape, would head for the exit.

That perception isn’t borne out by the results of a commendably comprehensive study the Federation of Small Business is releasing on Thursday. It polled more than 6,000 members and found 47 per cent favouring a “remain in” vote against 41 per cent who would back Brexit if a referendum were to be held tomorrow.

A reformed relationship with the EU found wide favour, while those trading across the continent were more supportive of the UK staying in than those exporting to markets outside the EU. This suggests a line that an “in” campaign might like to pursue. It should make the point that our position in the EU is useful when it comes to trading with countries outside it. Being a member of a big trading bloc helps with striking favourable trade deals.

One thing a majority complained about was that they don’t feel terribly well informed. Those who value a constructive relationship with Europe should address that issue, and with some speed.