In its final pre-referendum poll, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) found that the majority of senior businesspeople surveyed intend to vote to remain in the European Union (EU), but that the gap between the Remain and Leave campaigns has narrowed.
Some 54% of the 2,200 BCC members surveyed in April said that they would vote to remain on 23 June. This was down from 60% in February’s survey, while the percentage intending to vote to leave was up from 30% to 37%.
Dr Adam Marshall, BCC Acting Director General, said: ‘As the EU referendum campaign enters the final straight, the race for the business vote has clearly tightened. Although a clear majority of the businesspeople we surveyed continue to express a preference to remain in the EU, the gap between Remain and Leave has narrowed significantly in recent weeks.’
Those trading with other EU markets expressed the strongest support for the Remain campaign, with the strongest levels of support for the Leave campaign among those that do not. Businesspeople representing large firms were found to be significantly more likely to vote Remain than those in micro-businesses.
The BCC’s survey also showed that individuals are now strongly committed to their voting preferences. Just 0.3% of respondents said that they were uncommitted, and only 10.8% said that they could change their mind between now and the day of the referendum.
Other findings included:
- The majority of business leaders reported that the referendum has had no impact to date on various aspects of their business, from orders and sales (71.3%), recruitment (87.1%) and investment (79.6%), to total costs (80.3%).
- If the UK were to leave the EU, 35.9% currently expect that this would have a negative impact on their overall growth strategy, whilst 36.3% feel that this would have no impact, and 15.9% believe that it would have a positive impact.
- Asked about the impact of the UK remaining a member of the EU, 12.8% currently expect this to have a negative impact on their overall growth strategy. Almost half (49.4%) feel that it would have no impact, while nearly a third (30.1%) believe that it would have a positive impact.
Dr Marshall added: ‘While only a minority of businesspeople report that the referendum campaign has had a material impact on their firms to date, significant numbers say that they expect significant impacts in the aftermath of the vote – particularly if Leave carries the day.
‘Whichever outcome prevails, Westminster must shift its attention back to the economy on June 24 without delay. Growth is softening, and Westminster’s referendum ‘tunnel vision’ over the past year has meant that far too many key economic issues have been given short shrift or delayed altogether.’