M-RCBG Associate Working Paper No. 101
‘Deal or No Deal?’ Businesses’ Views on the Endgame of the Brexit Negotiations
Ed Balls, Peter Sands, Emily Benn, Kevin Ferriter, Tobias Garnett, Eleanor Hallam, Sebastian Leape, Nyasha Weinberg
Brexit presents profound changes for British businesses: from how they trade, to how they are regulated and how they employ people. This paper represents the fourth phase of a research project in a series examining the impact of Brexit on small and medium-sized British businesses, examining their views as we reach the endgame in the Brexit negotiations, with the publication of the Government's Draft Withdrawal Agreement (“DWA”) and Draft Political Declaration (“DPD”). This research is primarily based on 180 interviews with over 120 small and medium-sized businesses, academics and trade association over the past two years, and draws on interviews and research from previous papers. The key conclusion from these interviews is unambiguous: the vast majority believe a “No Deal” outcome would be extremely damaging, and is a “worst-case scenario”. While preferable to “No Deal” the “Blind Brexit” that would result from the combination of the DWA/DPD would mean continued and damaging uncertainty, which is already having a negative impact for many businesses. While the DPD still leaves the shape of the post EU transition unresolved, most businesses would prefer a closer relationship with the EU than it currently envisages.