Business owners ‘want to remain in EU’, finds survey

• Majority think staying in EU is better for business and the economy
• Most want to see EU reform but 16 per cent would “stay in at all costs”
• Uncertainty around membership “damaging to business growth”

Almost three quarters of businesses believe the economy will be stronger if Britain remains in the European Union, according to our latest poll.

Of the business owners surveyed, 56 per cent said they wanted to stay in the EU if Britain could secure key reforms, and a further 16 per cent wanted Britain to “remain a member at all costs”.

However, almost one in five (18 per cent), said they believed that leaving the EU was the best strategy to help Britain’s economy. Just eight per cent said a straight in/out referendum, without attempts at EU reform, was the best option.

Partner at Moore and Smalley, said: “Britain’s membership of the European Union has been a divisive issue for decades and, with a referendum due to be held on the issue within two years, it remains a key consideration for the business community.

“The EU is the Britain’s key trade partner and there are fears an exit could shrink the UK economy on the back of weaker trade and reduced inward investment, as well as reducing our export markets and making imports more expensive.

“However, other leading business figures have argued that an EU exit could actually benefit Britain as we would be able to negotiate as one country rather than being one of 28 nations.”

Prime minister, David Cameron, has pledged to push hard for EU reform before holding a referendum on Britain’s membership before the end of 2017. Since being elected in May, he’s been on a round of diplomatic visits to other member states to secure support for his reform plans and he formally set out Britain’s proposals at a meeting of EU leaders on June 25.

“The EU question is one that is causing uncertainty for businesses and many business owners I speak to, particularly those who trade with Europe, agree that the quicker it is resolved the better. There’s a danger that the EU issue just hangs over the economy like a dark cloud for the next few years and that could damage business growth.”