Business vote on Brexit 'unaffected' by PM's renegotiation deal

David Cameron
By Isabelle Bell, CA Today

18 February 2016

The outcome of Prime Minister David Cameron’s renegotiation of Britain’s membership of the EU will not change the voting intentions of most British businesses, according to a new survey.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) found that nearly two-thirds (63%) of the 2,000 senior business people surveyed said the renegotiation deal – which could be finalised at talks today or Friday in Brussels – is unlikely to change how they will vote in an EU referendum.

The BCC found that 59.5% of those surveyed are intending to vote for the UK to stay in the EU, while 30.1% are voting to leave.

Business support for an EU exit has climbed by 3% since September.

Large businesses with 250 or more employees showed the greatest amount of support for staying in the EU (74.7%), while small and micro-businesses are most in support of Britain leaving the EU (31.4% and 33.5% respectively).

Exporting businesses are also more likely to want to stay in the EU, compared with non-exporting businesses (63.7% compared with 53.3%).

John Longworth, Director General of the BCC, said that the findings are “a wake-up call for both the Remain and Leave camps”, because “neither side can bank on a change to business opinion in the wake of any renegotiation settlement”.

He added that for business people, it is a question of in or out, not renegotiation.

He said: “When we last surveyed Chamber members in September, we did not know the detail or ambition of the Prime Minister’s renegotiation package. Now our findings suggest that the renegotiation is having little impact on day-to-day business — or the vote of the BCC's business community, since many made up their minds before knowing the outcome of negotiations, effectively discounting them as irrelevant.

“Business remains divided on Europe, and business leaders’ views reflect the size of their firm and their export interests, rather than the current political debate. They are making rational economic choices based on their own interests.”

Source: British Chambers of Commerce

Image credit: 360b / Shutterstock.com

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