Major new survey reveals polarised views on way ahead in Brexit negotiations.
One in seven Norfolk businesses is considering setting up an EU base for their business if they think the Brexit deal will disadvantage them – or already have done, according to a major new survey of business attitudes to the Brexit process.
Regional chartered accountants, business advisers and financial planners Lovewell Blake polled 260 companies in the county to find out their feelings about the Brexit negotiations eight months after the referendum, and found that the issue continues to divide opinion.
35.8% of respondents said that they felt more confident about the prospects for their business in the next 12 months than they did immediately after the referendum in June – but 26.07% said they felt less confident.
There was agreement about the priority for the region’s economy during and after the Brexit process, though, with four in ten businesses saying that negotiating effective trade deals – both with the EU and non-EU countries – was the number one task.
Other top priorities were overhauling the regulatory regime inherited from EU laws, ensuring doing trade with the EU does not become excessively bureaucratic, and ensuring free movement of labour.
Surprisingly, just 3.47% said the top priority was devising and implementing new agricultural and fisheries policies, and only 3.09% were concerned about increasing border security.
Norfolk businesses were almost evenly split when asked how confident they were that the government would deliver the best possible outcome for the eastern region during the Brexit negotiations, with 50.2% declaring a lack of confidence, and 49.8% declaring faith in Theresa May’s team to deliver for the region.
If negotiations fail to deliver a positive solution for Norfolk businesses, a significant minority of firms would consider establishing a base in another EU country. One in seven said they would consider this, with 2.5% having already set the wheels in motion to do so.
“This is a fascinating snapshot of Norfolk business’s feelings about Brexit as Theresa May prepares to invoke Article 50
,” said Paul Briddon, senior partner at Lovewell Blake. “The results are indicative of a continued polarisation of views amongst our business people.
“However, we should be worried that as many as one in seven of Norfolk firms would consider establishing a base within the EU post-Brexit. This underlines the importance of negotiating a Brexit deal which works for employers in our region, or else we may well see investment and jobs moving away.
“The top priority is to negotiate effective trade deals both with the EU and with other countries following Brexit, to safeguard jobs and the region’s prosperity.
The Lovewell Blake Brexit survey polled 260 Norfolk businesses, 13.7% of which have 50 or more employees. The full results are here.