“Businesses want to remain close to Single Market after Brexit” reports Institute of Directors in wake of detailed survey
New figures released by the Institute of Directors (IoD) show that a majority of business leaders (51%) want to keep in step with the rules of the Single Market for goods and services after the UK leaves the EU in order to preserve maximum access. By contrast, 21% of members prioritise changes to domestic regulations, even if it reduces access. The IoD, which received responses from over 900 members in its October survey, said this was “a clear steer to the Government” to prioritise a final deal with the EU that minimises regulatory barriers to trade.
Uncertainty over the shape of the UK’s future relationship with the EU means that just under half (46%) of IoD members currently feel unable to plan for Brexit. This figure varies by sector, with directors in manufacturing less likely to say they can plan now (44%) when compared to directors in the finance world (57%). In total, 61% of firms anticipated they would be preparing for different Brexit scenarios, although fewer than one-in-ten (8%) said they had triggered contingency plans, such as moving operations. Overall, around one-in-five (22%) thought they might have to move some operations to the EU.
Putting long-term planning to one side, the most pressing concern for businesses is guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and UK citizens in the EU. This is one of the issues being negotiated in the first phase of the Brexit talks. On this matter, the IoD is calling for a swift resolution to provide reassurance for companies and their staff. Other pressing priorities for SMEs include avoiding tariffs and securing urgent agreement on transition.