SMEs have been identified as key swing voters in the coming EU referendum, and both sides are vying for their attention in the run-up to the big day.
A Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) poll found two fifths (42%) of small business owners could still be swayed on how to vote on Thursday 23 June. Over half (52%) saying they didn’t feel they had the information they needed.
To help SMEs get the facts, the FSB held a debate where both campaigns were pitted against each other to appeal directly to small businesses.
Chairman of the Vote Leave Business Council chairman John Longworth said: “If we leave the EU our economy will be better off. If we can shave off just a fraction of the cost of EU red tape we can deliver a huge boost to the economy – even if we are left with no access to the single market at all. The single market is a mirage – not a nirvana – but of course we well get a deal.
“Government ministers have to go to the EU with a begging bowl just to change the VAT on tampons. If we leave the EU we will be able to take control of our own tax and trade – setting our own rules to support UK businesses.”
Britain Stronger in Europe deputy chairman Richard Reed said: “The idea that leaving the EU will help our exports is total fiction. Right now we can trade freely with the largest trading block in the world. Leaving would only result in more barriers to trade – not fewer.
“Having unfettered access to the largest trading block on the planet is unquestionably good for businesses. Inward investment is already being affected by this debate. We only need to look at what’s happening to the markets right now to see what will happen if we leave.”
Commenting following the discussion FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said: “What’s clear from today is that there will be no status quo – whatever the result – we can expect to see changes to our relationship with the EU. Small firms want to know more about what these will be and how they will impact their business – yet many questions throughout the campaign have proven either unanswerable or heavily disputed.”