Businesses throughout the South East overwhelmingly support retaining the UK’s access to the single market, saying the government should make it a priority during the upcoming Brexit negotiations.
The findings come in a survey of more than 200 regional businesses carried out by Tunbridge Wells-based law firm Cripps in association with business-to-business specialists Insider Media. The survey was conducted between 8 August and 2 September 2016.
It found a clear majority of firms, 62 per cent, said they wanted the UK to maintain access to the single market, a figure rising to 72 per cent among firms with a turnover of over £5 million.
Other headline results include 51 per cent of respondents believing they would be harmed by restrictions on free movement, 37 per cent saying it would make no difference and just 12 per cent feeling they would be better off.
“Given that migration was portrayed as playing a major role in the Brexit vote, it appears from these responses that the government faces a big challenge to please both the wider public and the business community,” said Cripps Managing Partner Gavin Tyler.
“While curbing migration into the UK may be a popular issue with the general electorate, we do have to recognise there are numerous businesses, particularly in sectors such as agriculture, food and drink, and construction that depend quite heavily on EU workers. Technology and related industries also rely on being able to attract top talent from outside the UK.”
But Mr Tyler said he has been ‘reassured’ when speaking to clients, many of whom plan to press ahead with business plans formulated before the referendum.
The firm’s international clients also appear keen to continue to do transactions in the UK, he added.