Britain’s small businesses divided over EU membership

Poll shows Scottish businesses are most in favour of remaining in the EU while companies in England are most sceptical...

Small businesses in the UK are divided over whether Britain should remain in the European Union (EU) with a clear divide along national lines, according to a study by the Federation of Small Business (FSB).

The study of 6,000 businesses found that a narrow majority, 47%, would vote to stay if the referendum was held today, while 41% said they would vote to leave, 11% said they remain undecided and 1% said they wouldn’t vote or preferred not to say.

Businesses in England were found to be the most sceptical about Britain membership of the EU, with 45% wanting to stay and 43% wanting to leave – while companies in Scotland were the strongest supporters; 60% of businesses said they would vote to remain in.

54% of companies in Northern Ireland were in support of Britain remaining a member of the EU while firms in Wales were less supportive at 49%.

More businesses in London than anywhere else in the country were to be the most in favour of Britain’s EU status – 55% – while companies in the East Midlands were the strongest supporters of a Brexit – 49% said they wished Britain would leave the EU.

The report also discovered that one in three respondents did not feel fully informed about the possible impact of an EU referendum on business.

Mike Cherry, policy director a the FSB, said: “This research is a vital starting point in outlining the key issues and areas of concern for small businesses in the EU referendum.

“Regardless of what a firm’s current position is, there is a shared message that small businesses feel they lack clear, impartial information on which to form their views.”

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