Only a quarter of UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) feel that quitting the European Union (EU) would have a negative effect on their business, according to a new poll of small firms by Sage One.
The UK is facing a potential referendum on its membership of the EU in 2017 if the Conservatives win the next General Election.
Europe’s single market of 28 member states and more than 500 million citizens is said to account for almost half of all UK trade.
But those who feel an EU ‘in/out’ referendum is necessary believe the EU is a bureaucratic, undemocratic and wasteful institution that erodes national sovereignty, adding that the UK should break away and form its own individual trade deals with Europe and the rest of the world instead.
Proponents on the UK remaining within the EU say British firms would have much greater clout in global markets, with the EU’s single market bringing significant benefits to the economy, such as the free movement of labour.
The Sage One survey found that two-thirds (66 per cent) of SMEs said they felt the UK’s membership of the EU had no impact on their trading, while just 40 per cent had even contemplated the impact on an EU exit on their businesses.
This latest survey stands against many other business surveys suggesting the vast majority back the UK’s continued membership of the EU, whilst demanding reforms such as the relaxing of labour laws.
For instance, a members survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the largest business lobbyist in the UK, found that 80 per cent of members wanted the country to remain in the EU.
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