"No deal" on Brexit is not an option say SMEs

A survey of UK business owners has found that while there is a range of views on Brexit, there is almost no support for walking away without a trade deal of any kind.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) polled over 2,400 companies just after the June general election. Asked to consider which option came closest to their view about what the UK's Brexit negotiation objectives should be, the survey found:

  • Only 2% said the UK should leave the EU without any kind of trade deal - leaving the Single Market and Customs Union, and relying on WTO rules for trade;
  • 34% said the UK should remain in the Single Market and Customs Union;
  • 13% said the UK should remain in the Customs Union only (with no hard borders or tariffs, but limited scope to negotiate trade agreements with non-EU countries);
  • 11% said the UK should remain in the Single Market only and accept EU regulations in return for full market access;
  • 28% said the UK needed a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement and a customs agreement - the Government's current objective.

"No deal isn't seen as a viable option," said Dr Adam Marshall, BCC director general. "There is near-universal consensus that a deep and comprehensive agreement is needed. Businesses want a pragmatic settlement on the practical, real-world issues that affect their operations, not arbitrary political red lines."

Respondents were also asked about the question of negotiating a transition period. Almost half of those polled (46%) said the UK required a transition period of three years, 22% favoured an even longer transition period and 17% said there was no need for a transition period at all.

Marshall said: "By more than three to one, businesses want a transition period on the way to a final agreement with the EU. This is critical to prevent firms facing the prospect of repeated, costly adjustments to new trading conditions. If companies have to change their business model once in 2019 and again several years thereafter, the competitiveness and investment potential of our firms will be undermined.

"Getting transition arrangements on the negotiations agenda as quickly as possible would give businesses - many of whom are considering big investment decisions now - the confidence to press ahead."

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