Small business divided on the benefits of the EU
In a survey of its 6,300 members, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) found that 47% would vote for the UK to remain part of the EU, 41% would vote to leave and 11% are undecided. Of those who want to remain inside the EU, 35% would like to see powers transferred back to the UK, while a further 21% would like to see more reforms, compared to just 26% who want the EU to stay as it is.
The survey also found that while 50.5% of small businesses agreed or strongly agreed that EU membership is beneficial for the UK economy, only 35% agreed or strongly agreed that it was beneficial for their business. In regional terms, London had the largest majority in favour of remaining in the EU – 55% to 34% – while the East Midlands had the largest majority for leaving – 49% to 38%.
In nearly all regions, undecided small businesses would be able to swing the majority either way. If the UK were to leave the EU, 43% of the FSB’s members would like to see the UK strengthen trade links with the rest of the world, while 29% would want to see individual trade agreements with the EU and its member states, and 22% would want the UK to remain part of the European Economic Area (as Norway is).
Separately, in The Times, columnist Simon Nixon cites Open Europe’s proposals to safeguard the rights of non-Eurozone states within the EU, concluding though that there is no easy way to meet the UK’s promise of ensuring fairness between those inside and outside the Eurozone.