Tuesday 19 September 2017

Majority of UK businesses opposed to EU exit

Sarah McCabe

Sarah McCabe

POLLS show that the majority of British people want the UK to leave the EU, but it seems businesses think otherwise.

Four out of five UK companies want Britain to keep its EU membership, according to new research by UK's biggest business lobby.

Of the 415 firms surveyed in a new study by the Confederation of British Industry, only 10pc said Britain should leave the trading bloc.

The news will come as a balm to the many Irish businesses who export to Britain. The UK is Ireland's second-largest trading partner after the USA, accounting for about €15bn worth of exports last year.

An EU exit by Britain raises the possibility that taxes and other trade barriers would be reintroduced, hiking up the cost of selling to our neighbour.

The possibility of Britain breaking its 40-year ties with the EU gathered pace in January when Prime Minister David Cameron said he would hold a referendum asking voters whether they wanted to stay or leave if his Conservative government is re-elected in 2015.

There is clear public support for such a referendum. A separate poll released earlier this week found that 43pc of Britons would choose to leave the EU, while 39pc would opt to remain in if a vote were held now.

In the CBI study, two-thirds of British companies thought leaving the EU would damage trade with European markets.

WORKERS

Some 47pc said it would make it harder to find skilled workers, while 3pc said it would be easier. Just over half said it would harm competitiveness, against 15pc who thought it would help.

"Firms want what is best for jobs and growth, and there is genuine concern that an exit would hit business investment and access to the world's largest trading bloc," said the industry body's director general John Cridland.

The survey did find that there is frustration among business leaders with Britain's current relationship with the EU and the burden of regulation. However, the benefits of membership outweigh drawbacks, respondents said, with 71pc saying it has a positive or very positive impact on their businesses.

"Businesses do have some serious concerns about the EU, but ultimately they want the UK inside the tent winning the argument for reform," said Mr Cridland.

Irish Independent

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