SME owners: lack of majority government hindering Brexit negotiations

Three quarters of UK SMEs feel that the absence of a majority government is likely to negatively impact the UK’s Brexit negotiations.

Three quarters (76 per cent) of UK SMEs feel that the absence of a majority government is likely to negatively impact the UK’s ability to successfully negotiate Brexit – 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,’ says Neil Davies, CEO, Close Brothers Asset Finance.

‘That said, it’s important to note that close to 25 per cent 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 per cent 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 per cent),’ said Davies.

‘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 per cent of SMEs have experienced no impact on business levels following the general election, and this is especially true for Northern Ireland where 90 per cent 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,’ Davies continues.

Business sentiment

Business sentiment remains largely unaffected, with 61 per cent 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 per cent said ‘more confident’, with 23 per cent feeling ‘less confident’.

‘Confidence levels are remaining stable, but a significant minority of businesses (23 per cent) are not feeling as buoyant as they were two years ago,’ concludes Davies.

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