Small businesses in Northern Ireland still undecided on Brexit

Prime Minister David Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron

Almost half of the Northern Ireland small business vote on the EU referendum could still be swayed, a snap poll published by FSB has revealed.

In the first business survey conducted since the announcement of the June 23, as the EU Referendum date, over half (55%) of small businesses questioned in Northern Ireland responded that they did not feel informed about the forthcoming referendum, with 43% admitting they could be swayed either way.

The survey also determined the areas in which small businesses are seeking further clarity.

Across the UK, three out of four (75%) FSB members raised EU governance–i.e. how decisions are made within the EU - as the area that would have the highest influence on how they plan to vote. Other areas that scored highly included the free movement of people (70%), the cost of EU membership (69%), the administrative burden of regulation (68%) and the economic impact on the UK (64%). The FSB is neutral in the EU referendum debate and advises both the ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’ groups to focus on these issues in their campaigns.

Earlier this week, FSB NI presented evidence on its members’ calls for informed debate and information on the emerging issues, when it met with the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster as part of their enquiry into the impact of the EU Referendum upon small businesses in Northern Ireland.

Responding to today’s results, FSB Policy Chair for Northern Ireland, Wilfred Mitchell OBE said: “Our goal must be to ensure the small business voice is heard in the discussion, and that our members have all the information they need to make a decision which is right for them and their business.

“This survey reveals that over half of small businesses do not feel informed about the EU Referendum. This sends a very clear message that small businesses want the information deficit to be addressed by both official ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’ campaigns once they are appointed by the Electoral Commission.

“The high response highlights that FSB members want to know the practical impact that remaining within or leaving the EU will have on their businesses.

“Over the coming months FSB will be at the forefront of this effort on behalf of our members, to get the information they need before they cast their vote.”