What do the region’s business owners really think about Brexit?

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To find out the answer to this question, Business Leader Magazine partnered with Barclays to conduct a survey of our readership – asking a series of questions related to Brexit.

The survey forms part of Barclays’ quarterly barometer that is produced in conjunction with Business Leader.

Government handling

The first question in the survey asked business leaders if they are happy with how Brexit is being handled by government. Unsurprisingly, a whopping 85% said that they were not giving an indication that there is growing frustration from businesses with how the process is being managed.

Interestingly, one of the questions asked was who people would like to see managing negotiations instead of Theresa May and her current team. The most common answers were Brexiteers Jacob Rees-Mogg, Boris Johnson and Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer.

When asked about what the outcome will be post March 24% said they believed a positive deal would be struck, 30% said they expect the UK not to strike a deal and crash out on WTO terms; and 46% said they were unsure.

Impact

Prior to the Brexit vote, the then Chancellor George Osborne said that voting to leave the European Union would see the UK economy enter freefall. This didn’t happen and, despite the uncertainty, the economy has remained relatively stable.

So, it was interesting to see that 69% of those quizzed said that they hadn’t yet seen a negative impact on their business due to Brexit, against 31% who said they had seen a direct impact. The businesses that said they had seen an impact all had operations outside of the UK, whether import or export related.

Worryingly, for the companies that said they imported products from the EU, 72% said a no deal or ‘hard Brexit’ would be bad for their company.

EU Labour

One of the concerns about leaving the European Union has been access to migrant labour and skills – when asked about this 55% of the respondents that employ – or have employed – people from the EU said they has seen less applications for work for this category of people.

45% said they had seen no such impact.

Following this, business leaders were asked whether the loss of the so-called four freedoms of the EU Single Market would have an impact on their businesses.

The most common answers were goods and people would have the biggest potential impact, with services and capital coming next.

Northern Ireland

For the penultimate question, respondents were asked if a solution to the impasse over the Northern Ireland border is possible – 68% said yes, compared to 32% who said no.

Finally – looking ahead, business leaders were asked whether they were optimistic about Britain in the long term.

It was reassuring to see that 84% said that they were, compared to 16% who said they were not.­­

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