London – The UK’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are narrowly in favour of the country remaining in the European Union (EU), according to a new survey.
Close Brothers Invoice Finance, part of merchant bank Close Brothers Group, found that 44 percent of SME owners and managers said they did not want the UK to leave the EU, against 39 percent who support Brexit.
However, 17% of respondents in the latest Close Brothers Business Barometer said they were unsure about which way to vote in next month’s referendum.
The close nature of the debate reflected uncertainty about the impact Brexit would have on many businesses – 34 percent of firms said leaving the EU would have a positive effect on their business, but exactly the same number said the impact would be negative. The remaining 32 percent said they were not sure what the effect would be.
Close Brothers Invoice Finance chief executive David Thomson, said: “It is very clear that the debate over Brexit remains close and extremely finely balanced.
“The level of uncertainty about the impact of the UK leaving the EU has left many business owners and managers unsure about how to vote in the referendum.
“Campaigners for both sides will need to make powerful arguments over the next few weeks in order to convince leaders in the SME sector to join them.”
Amongst those SMEs in favour of Brexit, 34 percent believed they would experience faster growth with reduced regulation and red tape, while 33 percent anticipated either reduced import costs for raw materials or increased export opportunities.
In contrast, amongst those against the UK leaving the EU, 38 percent were concerned about the increased costs associated with trading in Europe, while 36 percent feared reduced export opportunities.