Midlands businesses are UK’s most optimistic about Brexit

Mark Taylor

Middle market businesses across central England are more positive about the economic impact of Brexit over the next five years than any other region in the UK.

According to RSM’s Brexit Monitor Index, in which any reading above 100 (on a scale of 0-200) indicates that businesses are more optimistic than pessimistic, showed that sentiment among regional businesses about the impact of Brexit on the economy over a five-year period reached 122 in the current quarter (up 10 points from 112). This was in sharp contrast to businesses in London where the index dipped from 116 last quarter to just 95.

However, when asked about the prospects for their own businesses, respondents across the region were significantly less optimistic, registering a score of just 101.

The national survey of more than 300 UK leaders of mid-market companies also revealed that respondents were quite bullish about the prospects of a good Brexit deal. In total, 45% of those surveyed said they were confident that the Government could achieve a good deal. This was more than double the 21% who said they were not confident of a good deal.

Six in ten respondents said that access to the single market, either through a new trade deal or continued membership, should be a negotiation priority for UK government. Securing the rights of EU citizens in the UK was the second most important consideration at 27%.

There was no clear consensus on preferred future trading models. Twenty-two per cent favoured the Canadian and Norwegian models respectively, 19% the Hong Kong or Singapore City State model and 17% the Swiss model. Only 6% preferred the Turkish model.

The Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) sector stood out as the most consistently upbeat sector in terms of the likely impact of Brexit on their industry’s prospects over the next five years, registering an index score of 133.

Conversely, the consumer business sector saw the most challenging conditions ahead for their industry, with an index score of just 94.

Mark Taylor, RSM’s regional managing partner for the central region said: “Despite the Cabinet divisions and reports of a deadlock in the negotiations, businesses across our region remain upbeat about the long-term economic effects of Brexit and relatively confident about the Government’s ability to deliver a good deal.

“There is still great uncertainty regarding our future trading relationships with the EU and other global markets. However, we detect a change in tone among businesses. The latest results of our survey suggest they are now taking a more pragmatic view of what could lie ahead and are taking steps to adapt and emerge stronger post-Brexit.”