BGF study reveals Brexit on rise

Support for EU slips sharply among Scottish firms

Mike SibsonSupport for Britain’s membership of the EU among senior company leaders in Scotland has slipped significantly, according to a survey carried out by the Business Growth Fund.

A majority – 61% – say Britain is better off in the EU, but this is sharply down on the 82% in June last year who said that the UK’s membership of the EU is good for British businesses.

On the implications of a vote to leave, 55% said that a Brexit will prompt multinational companies to relocate operations overseas while 67% believe that it will trigger another Scottish independence referendum.

Regulation was identified as a negative factor with 64% of respondents from Scotland claiming that Britain’s membership of the EU saddles British businesses with unnecessary and problematic regulation.

But a majority do not believe that leaving the EU would harm Britain’s ability to fill skilled jobs. Almost half (45%) believe that an EU exit would not leave British businesses facing a skills shortage – compared to 33% who think it would.

For the first time the BGF Growth Climate Index identified macro-economic conditions (52%) and instability in overseas markets (12%) as the biggest factors holding businesses back from growth. Only 18% expect conditions for growth to improve over the next quarter (compared to 46% in November 2015) while 27% expect them to stay the same.

Yet despite this, businesses remain focused on growth – 61% said that the objective of the companies they work with is to pursue growth over the next quarter, compared to 36 per cent who plan to consolidate or remain the same size.

This suggests that while uncertainty associated with the upcoming referendum and economic slowdown overseas is increasingly front-of-mind for the Scottish business community; it is not dampening individual business’ appetite for growth.

Mike Sibson (pictured), of the BGF, said: “The Growth Climate Index exclusively seeks the views of senior business leaders who are committed to supporting Britain’s most ambitious small and mid-sized businesses. While the poll shows an uptick in support for Brexit among the Scottish business community, the majority remain in favour of staying in the EU.

“It’s also clear that despite uncertainty prompted by the vote, and economic instability overseas, Scottish businesses remain committed to growth. In uncertain times it is crucial that businesses get the support they need to innovate, export, grow and prosper.”


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