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The EU referendum

The issue of whether businesses benefit from the European Union is likely to be a feature of the debate in the run-up to the referendum on Britain’s continued membership. OMBs have strong feelings on the matter – but they don’t all agree.

When asked if Britain should leave the EU, 60% of OMBs surveyed said it should not, with just 17% supporting a ‘Brexit’. Almost a quarter (23%) don’t know, waiting to be persuaded by the pre-referendum debate, or wanting to see what new terms David Cameron can negotiate.

Some regional variations emerge, with OMBs headquartered in England somewhat more likely to want an exit: 19% of English OMBs think Britain should leave the EU, compared to 10% of Scottish OMBs.

How a Brexit would impact OMBs’ businesses
Less than half of OMBs surveyed (46%) think that leaving would actually have a negative impact. The biggest proportion (49%) of survey participants think that leaving the EU would have no impact on their business. Just 5% see any potential positive impact.

On the positive impact side, OMBs refer to the potential for less regulation and red tape to reduce their costs. Those expecting no impact explain that they do not trade with the EU, or believe that EU businesses would still need to trade with the UK.

However, many OMBs that do trade with the EU fear that their businesses would be negatively affected by an EU exit. Reasons given include the risk of increased costs of imported supplies, the loss of inward investment into the UK, and an exit of foreign companies from the UK.

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Fig 1.  OMBs wanting to stay within the EU