As election campaigns continue, new data shows how small business owners and entrepreneurs feel on Brexit and the current political situation.
Small business owners and entrepreneurs list no-deal Brexit above all else as the biggest fear for their company, according to a new survey released today by e-Residency, the Estonian government’s pioneering digital ID programme. E-Residency surveyed 1,001 small business owners and entrepreneurs across the UK to find out their attitudes towards Brexit, the UK political situation, and the impact they have had and will have on their businesses.
Whilst UK parties vie for the most seats in parliament this December, a majority of businesses are strikingly fearful of a no-deal Brexit. In fact, when asked what they are most fearful of happening to their business, a third (32%) of British businesses said a no-deal Brexit, 20% said a Labour government, and only 5% were most fearful of their headquarters burning down. Remainers said that they were most fearful of a no-deal Brexit (47%) while leavers were more apprehensive about the prospect of a Labour government (39%).
One of the core arguments for leaving the EU was to leave the EU’s free market. Yet, despite Brexit preparations having cost the UK economy upwards of £6.5bn, almost two-thirds (63%) of respondents that voted leave feel that they will have full access to the European market after Brexit, compared to around a third or 31% of remain voters. This is despite over 80% of business owners who voted both leave and remain classifying their company as ‘British’ rather than ‘European’.
Leave voters seem the most confused of any demographic, stating that their second-biggest frustration after delayed Brexit deadlines is Boris Johnson saying “take back control!” As many as a third of British businesses (33%) are considering moving their companies out of the UK, as many as 10% of leave voters admitted to making plans to move. This is most likely due to the uncertainty around how the government will protect businesses from the fallout of Brexit, with almost two-thirds (60%) of respondents feeling unsatisfied with the government’s approach to protecting them.
These results suggest that regardless of whether British businesses voted remain or leave, there are still fundamental fears around how Brexit and the uncertain political situation will impact their business’s ability to thrive. As the UK approaches election day, this is a warning for political parties to address the distrust and apprehension felt by the business community.
Ott Vatter, the Managing Director of e-Residency said, “it is not surprising that there is still a great deal of confusion and apprehension three years after the UK chose to leave the EU. Companies simply have not had the support they need to prepare adequately for Brexit, and this in turn is affecting their sense of security and stability in doing business in the UK. With e-Residency, British entrepreneurs and business owners can become digital residents of Estonia, meaning that they can create virtual companies in Estonia without having to leave the UK.”
“As we detailed in our recent PwC report, where we give guidelines and advice to British businesses and freelancers in the event of a no-deal Brexit, we’d like to extend our hand to all British companies, whether they are considering leaving the UK or not, so we can help them maintain access to the EU market after any Brexit scenario. Staying in the UK can help the country’s economy through this period of uncertainty, but by becoming an e-Resident they don’t have to fear a no-deal Brexit or an end to access to the free market.”