Brexit: One third of small businesses want new government that will reverse decision to leave EU

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The Independent Online

Almost a third of small businesses want a new government that would reverse the Brexit decision, new research has revealed. 

In Wales, where a majority of people voted to leave the EU last June, the figure was 36 per cent, while in London it rose to 41 per cent, Hitachi Capital found.

The proportion in Scotland was similarly high at 36 per cent, although their top priority was a clear and final position on Scottish independence – an issue for 49 per cent of business owners.

More than 1,000 owners and directors of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) nationwide were asked which policies a new government could enact to help their businesses grow.

SMEs predicting a declining business outlook were almost twice as likely to say they wanted a government that would not go ahead with EU withdrawal, the survey found. 

Neither of the Labour or Conservative parties have said they would go back on the Brexit vote. Tim Farron’s Liberal Democrats have campaigned on an anti-Brexit message but are currently languishing in the polls and look likely to secure just a handful of seats. 

Prime Minister Theresa May has taken a hard-line approach with her stance that, “no deal is better than a bad deal for Britain”. The OECD said today that it believed Ms May would be unable to secure a comprehensive trade agreement with the EU within the allotted two-year timeframe, and therefore the UK would be faced with a damaging cliff-edge situation.

 

Hitachi found that 48 per cent of agricultural firms were keen to see a government that was committed to negotiating favourable trade deals beyond the EU – far higher than the average figure across all sectors of 24 per cent. Amongst the manufacturing sector, this figure was 37 per cent. 

While Brexit prompted strong opinions amongst survey respondents, the key demands from SMEs were a reduction of “red tape”, which was cited by 40 per cent of respondents, and lower taxes, which 35 per cent said was important. 

Less regulation was a top three wish for every sector in the survey, peaking in the agriculture sector where it was a priority for 70 per cent of business owners.

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