A poll of over 6000 members of Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) showed that a large portion of UK small businesses are in favor of Britain’s staying as a member of European Union. 47% of all the small businesses in the UK voted in favor of staying in the EU, 41% voted against staying in the EU, 11% of voters were undecided, with just over 1% saying that they would prefer not to vote on the referendum. Although the majority support staying in the EU, the 11% that is still undecided may well make a big difference as the days go by.
45% of English firms and nearly 60% of Scottish firms voted in favor of Britain’s remaining in the European Union. On the other hand, 43% English firms and 26% Scottish firms polled against staying in the EU.
How the UK Small Businesses Voted
45.1% of England small businesses voted for staying in the EU; 43.1% against; 10.5% undecided. 49.4% of Wales small business voted for staying in the EU; 38.6% against; 11.6% undecided. 54.2% of Northern Ireland small business voted for staying in the EU; 31.3% against; 13.5% undecided. 59.9% of Scottish small business voted for staying in the EU; 25.7% against; 11.9% undecided. The regions with most small businesses in favor of staying in the EU are Scotland (59.9%), London (55.4%), Northern Ireland (54.2%), and North east Ireland (51.3%). And the regions with most against staying in the EU are East Midlands (48.7%), Yorkshire and the Humber (47.8%), West Midlands (47.0%) and East (42.6%).
One in every three FSB members said that they did not feel well informed about different aspects of staying with and leaving from the EU from a business point of view. With this in mind, the survey clearly highlighted a perturbing lack of clarity on the issue. So, as more information and clarity comes out, small businesses throughout UK may change their mind.
Mike Cherry, FSB policy director, said that the poll is just the beginning of outlining major issues and areas of concern for UK small businesses in the referendum debate. He further added saying that regardless of current position of small businesses, there is a shared message that most feel they lack impartial and clear information on which to form their standing.
The decision to stay with the EU or not can prove very important especially for UK small businesses, and therefore the voice of small businesses could (and should) be a key contributor to the ultimate result of the referendum.
The result of the survey may be a headache for David Cameron as it may affect his ongoing renegotiation process with the EU. About a week ago, Mr Cameron and his key advisors asked the UK business leaders to “shut up” over Britain’s exit from the EU as the Cameron government felt that comments in favor of Britain’s staying in the EU may damage the ongoing renegotiation process. Now, with majority of small businesses in favor of staying with the EU, Mr Cameron may find it even more difficult to create the most favorable environment in which to renegotiate with the EU.