The Institute of Directors (IoD) has published the findings of an extensive survey of 1,224 members- including those in the East Midlands- on their views on the UK’s relationship with the European Union. According to the survey, business leaders are split 63-29 in favour of remain. 6 in 10 say access to the single market is important to their company, but three-quarters think EU needs reform to prevent economic decline.
Over half of company directors say Brexit would be a “significant” challenge for them, but a similar proportion think the UK could ultimately be an economic success outside the EU.
Overall, there is no clear consensus among IoD members on the best UK-EU relationship in the event of Brexit.
The IoD in the East Midlands is also holding an event titled “EU Referendum Roadshow In or Out? Time To Decide!” at the Nottingham Conference Centre (12-2.30pm) on Thursday 25th May for members and guests.
Ron Lynch, IoD East Midlands regional director, said: “Companies don’t have a unanimous view on the referendum. However our survey shows business leaders more than 2 to 1 in favour of remain with the gap widening as the vote nears. IoD members have extensive business links across the European Union, importing and exporting, and employing EU citizens. They value access to the single market and the skills of workers from across the bloc. Increasingly, these economic arguments seem to be pointing company directors towards remaining an EU member.
“That said, IoD members are concerned about the way the EU operates, with three-quarters saying it is over focused on top-down policy solutions. If the EU and individual member states do not initiate reforms to make themselves more competitive, British business leaders think the future will be one of economic decline.
“Dealing with Brexit would be a challenge for most directors, who think it would have a negative impact on trade, research, and access to skills. However, more members than not think the UK could ultimately make an economic success of leaving the EU, in particular believing that it would have a positive effect on employment red tape.
“In the event of a vote to leave, IoD members are split on the best trading arrangement for the UK. Their favoured option is the Norwegian model, with access to the single market, but still being subject to EU regulations, and allowing free movement of labour. A looser relationship, falling back on our membership of the World Trade Organisation, was also a popular choice.
“It is hard to forecast the exact future shape of a post-Brexit deal, and much would depend on the attitude of the remaining EU members. There are grounds for concern here: companies believe the rest of the EU would react mostly negatively, rather than positively, to Britain at the negotiating table”.
The IoD is not campaigning in the EU referendum, and the publication of this data is not intended to promote any particular outcome.