M-RCBG Associate Working Paper No. 84
Ed Balls, Peter Sands, Eleanor Hallam, Sebastian Leape, Mehek Sethi, and 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 second phase of a research project exploring the challenges and opportunities from the perspective of mid-sized British businesses. Based on interviews with over 120 individual businesses, trade associations and experts, our research seeks to identify and discuss the issues and priorities of mid-sized British businesses as the UK progresses towards exiting the European Union. Highlights from this second phase of research include: most businesses want to remain in the Single Market, and if that proves impossible, to stay in the Customs Union; most businesses fear Brexit will result in more regulation, not less; and almost all British businesses want to maintain flexible access to EU labour. The key conclusion from these interviews is unambiguous: most British business leaders are concerned that the current path of Brexit could well cause significant damage to business, both because the end-point will inevitably mean more barriers to trade, most likely more regulation, and almost certainly less influence; and because the process of leaving the EU is creating huge uncertainties and diverting management efforts.