With just over six weeks to go until the referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU on 23rd June, the polls are suggesting the vote will be too close to call with a 50/50 split.
With confusion growing, a large proportion of the electorate have yet to be swayed either way, something that is blamed on the negative campaigns about the benefits to business and the wider UK economy of EU membership. However, many polls are suggesting the vote could be swayed in favour of Brexit by the number of over 65’s who turn out to vote.
According to YouGov’s Stephan Shakespeare in an article published in The Times, his company’s online polls have corrected for this indecision and now represent a true snapshot of public opinion. He said “the deep human drive to avoid risk is likely to become increasingly powerful as we get closer to a real decision which cannot easily be changed once it is made.” The result, he says, is that “whatever the state of the polls today, it is impossible right now to predict the level of change in people’s views yet to come”.
This is by far one of the most important votes in recent memory, along with the Scottish Referendum in 2014, as the long term implications on the UK economy could either be positive or negative for future generations.
So what are the pro’s and con’s for UK businesses? We’ve looked at some of the main arguments on both sides.
Here are the pros:
• UK businesses and especially SME’s often see the EU trade regulations as unnecessary red tape especially in sectors like food and consumer goods. Leaving the EU would allow the UK Government to change these regulations, making it easier for businesses to sell their goods.
• The UK contributed over £13bn last year but received more than £4bn in support. By not paying £8bn to the EU it is believed that this saving of around 180 Euros per person in the UK would raise the prospect of tax reductions that could directly impact businesses regardless of size.
• Many believe the UK could have the same benefits as Iceland who are members of the European Economic Area (but not the EU) which comes without the confines of the red tape that is part of full membership.
And the cons:
• Some parts of the UK economy like farming could be hit hardest because of the loss of EU farming subsidies.
• There are several free grade agreements that the UK benefits from through its EU membership. Brexit would mean the country would have to negotiate agreements with these areas like Latin America for example.
• UK goods and services could be more expensive because of tariff changes that would be inevitable for businesses that trade in European countries outside the EU.
• The lack of import taxes within the EU helps UK businesses compete equally with other businesses across the continent. If the UK left there could be increased uncertainty which could have a negative impact on business growth in the future.
These pros and cons are responsible for so much uncertainty among UK businesses and voters, with many saying the campaigns for both sides of the European argument are not making it clear enough to make a decision on the big day.
The impact on the flexible workspace sector would be dependent on the challenges faced by SME’s and the large businesses that use serviced office space, managed space and flexible solutions. The sector has seen exceptional growth over the last few years with a growing number of workspace providers and increasing occupancy levels in areas that struggled during the down turn like Bristol, Manchester and the North East.
TAKE THE LOC8 COMMERCIAL SURVEY
To gauge the potential challenges faced by the growing sector we have put together a short survey to seek opinion from businesses across the UK. It takes under a minute to complete and we will publish the results from 23rd May.
About the Author
Stephen Moore is a writer and marketing consultant supporting businesses in the commercial property sector. Find out more about Stephen at Google+.