The poll, undertaken by the Federation of Small Businesses on 6000 of its members, showed that overall, 47% of firms would vote to remain in the EU, with 41% voting to leave and 11% still undecided.
EU opinion by country
However, while taken together the result shows a slight advantage for remaining in the EU, the results broken down by UK home countries shows a wide split in opinion on the issue.
Scotland showed large support for remaining in the European Union, with 60% of FSB’s Scottish firms voting to stay in compared to just 25% against.
In contrast, English firms remained deeply divided on the issue, with 45% wishing to remain and 43% saying they would vote to leave the EU.
Wales and Northern Ireland were also broadly less split on the issue than England, with 54.2% of firms in NI looking to remain in the EU and almost 50% of those in Wales saying they would also vote to stay in Europe.
Lack of clarity
The survey also highlighted a lack of clarity around the key points of the debate, with one in three FSB members saying they did not feel informed about the EU and almost half saying they did not feel fully informed about what the UK’s exit from the EU would mean for their business.
FSB policy director Mike Cherry said: “This research is a vital starting point in outlining the key issues and areas of concern for small businesses in the EU referendum debate.
“Regardless of what a firm’s current position is, there is a shared message that small businesses feel they lack clear, impartial information on which to form their views.
“This is only the beginning of our work to support our members throughout this complex debate. Our role will be to ensure the small business voice is heard in the discussion, and that our members have all the information they need to make a decision which is right for them and their business.”
The EU Referendum
The referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU was a key campaign point during the recent General Election and its result will have a massive impact for UK businesses.
While Euroskeptics point to the seemingly endless red tape faced by businesses as a reason to leave the EU, pro-EU campaigners argue that our membership increases our ability to trade with European countries without the need for additional taxes across borders.
With the referendum likely to happen as soon as 2016, the coming months are likely to be politically and economically interesting, particularly for your business.
Whatever the outcome of the Referendum, the question of “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?” will be of crucial importance to businesses of all sizes when it takes place.
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