SME owners: lack of majority government hindering Brexit negotiations

SME owners: lack of majority government hindering Brexit negotiations

 

Three quarters (76%) of UK SMEs feel that the absence of a majority government is likely to negatively impact the UK’s ability to successfully negotiate our exit from the European Union – but they wouldn’t want another election any time soon. The results were obtained from the Close Brothers Business Barometer, a quarterly survey that questions over 900 UK and RoI SME owners and senior management across a range of sectors and regions.

“Unsurprisingly, most business owners prefer the certainty a majority government brings,” said Neil Davies, CEO, Close Brothers Asset Finance. “That said, it’s important to note that close to 25% of those surveyed felt it would actually benefit the UK because of the balance they feel it would bring to the process.”

But, while SMEs are in favour of a majority government, there is simply not the enthusiasm for a repeat of the elections, with 74% of respondents replying negatively to the question ‘do you think there is the appetite among business owners for another election before the end of 2017?’.

“Interestingly, when asked if another General Election would be good for the UK, the only region that was statistically in favour of another election is the Republic of Ireland (53%),” said Neil. “The context for this result, of course, is that the RoI’s biggest trading partner is the UK.”  

Business impact

Despite their views on the lack of a majority government, 77% of SMEs have experienced no impact on business levels following the general election, and this is especially true for Northern Ireland where 90% of businesses felt unaffected.

“While firm owners necessarily keep a close watch on political events, it appears that they are having little impression on day-to-day business activities, which is testament to their resilience and ability to keep trading,” continued Neil.

Business sentiment

Business sentiment remains largely unaffected, with 61% of people answering ‘the same’ to the question ‘are you more or less confident about your business prospects compared to two years ago (pre Brexit and General Election)?’; 16% said ‘more confident’, with 23% feeling ‘less confident’.

“Confidence levels are remaining stable, but a significant minority of businesses (23%) are not feeling as buoyant as they were two years ago,” said Neil.

 

Q.12e Are you more or less confident about your business prospects compared to two years ago (pre Brexit and General Election)? 

 

More confident

The same

Less confident

NATIONAL

16%

61%

23%

Scotland

7%

65%

29%

East Midlands

9%

72%

20%

South West England

11%

57%

32%

Wales

14%

56%

30%

North East England

14%

71%

14%

Yorkshire/Humberside

16%

66%

18%

West Midlands

16%

63%

21%

East Anglia

17%

75%

8%

North West England

17%

66%

17%

Republic of Ireland

19%

43%

39%

South East England

22%

59%

19%

Northern Ireland

23%

55%

23%

Greater London

25%

50%

25%

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from a GMI survey conducted in August 2017. The survey canvassed the opinion of 900 SME owners across the UK and RoI and across several industries on a range of issues affecting their businesses.

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