An independent survey commissioned exclusively for IMHX reveals that whilst a significant majority of respondents would personally prefer Britain to leave the EU, they believe it would be better for their businesses if Britain were to remain in Europe following the June 23rd referendum.
In or out?
Given that previous industry polls had indicated a strong urge to remain in the EU, it came as quite a surprise to learn that respondents in the IMHX Business Survey are fairly evenly split as to their personal views on whether the UK should remain in the EU (45%) or leave (47%).
However, when it comes to thinking about what is best for the organisation they work for, there is less confidence in leaving and more uncertainty over what the outcome should be.
When asked "What do you believe would be the best outcome for the business you work for?", 49% believed we should remain in the EU, whilst only 35% said we should exit.
The survey revealed the key issues for respondents as we go into the referendum are:
Immigration and border control (60%)
Stability/protection of the UK economy (46%)
Ability to trade across the EU (37%)
However, these issues change as we split the findings into two groups: those who feel it would be better to stay in the EU and those who feel that it would be better to leave. Those who want to leave are more likely to see immigration and border control as a key issue, and are much less concerned with the stability of the UK economy and its ability to trade across the EU. For this group, laws and regulations and sovereignty are more pressing matters. Contrastingly, those who wish to remain feel that the UK economy and the ability to trade are key issues.
These significant differences tend to reflect the overall feelings between the remain and leave campaigns and the messages that they are sending.
Impact of leaving the EU
There is some uncertainty on how leaving could impact business growth – some feel that it may increase growth, a similar proportion feel that business could contract, and a similar proportion again just don’t know. The largest proportion of respondents (39%), however, feel that there would be no impact on business growth.
There is a similar result on how the future of the UK logistics industry may be affected, with 38% thinking that leaving could have a negative impact, although one-third do not feel there would be any effect and less than 1 in 5 respondents thinking it would be positive.
However, it is of some concern that the largest proportion of respondents fall into the negative category.
There is no decided ‘winner’ on red tape and bureaucracy, with a very even split across an increase, decrease an no change. However, there is much more agreement on how health and safety regulations might be affected, with the majority believing there would be no change, reflecting the fact that very few felt this was a key issue in relation to the referendum.
Less than half of organisations currently employ migrant workers, but of those that do 1 in 5 feel that leaving the EU could make it more difficult to recruit and retain employees, although a similar proportion felt that there would be no impact. Overall there are mixed feelings, which generally reflect the voting preferences of the sample and thus do not perhaps cause surprise, but reinforce the sentiments of each group and the reasons for their vote.
Regarding the impact of leaving the EU on the future of the UK logistics industry, respondents are more likely to feel that there will be a negative effect should the UK leave the EU, rather than a positive impact. 70% of those of feel that it is better for their business to stay in the EU feel there would be a negative impact; 44% of those who feel it would be better to leave think that there would be a positive impact, while 51% are inclined to think there would be no real change.
There is quite a range of feeling in terms of red tape and bureaucracy, indicating just how uncertain things are and how, perhaps, people are receiving conflicting messages from different sources. Around one-quarter (22%) feel there would be no impact on red tape and bureaucracy, with over one-third (35%) thinking there would be a decrease, and a similar proportion (38%) feeling there would be an increase.
Just over half (53%) of respondents think that there would be no change in health and safety regulations if we were to leave the EU, although one-third (33%) think there would be a decrease and a small minority (9%) think that there would be an increase. This reflects the earlier question about key issues in the debate, which found that health and safety rules and regulations were not seen as a particularly key issue for the surveyed group.
Finally, nearly 2 in 5 (38%) say that their organisations employ migrant workers. Of these, 40% are concerned that if the UK were to leave the EU it would be more difficult to recruit and retain employees. However, a similar proportion (39%) feel there would be no impact.
The research was conducted online during April 2016 - primarily via an email invite but also via social media - by independent research organisation Opinionography. Participants were encouraged by the incentive of a £2 donation to IMHX partner charity Transaid, and over 200 comprehensive responses to the poll were collected.
The full findings of the IMHX Business Survey on Brexit will be published as a white paper, available to download exclusively from the IMHX website. Download it now to see the full results and analysis.