A quarter of UK business leaders doubt that the government is prepared for Brexit

A new survey from MarketInvoice has revealed that business leaders prioritise trading agreements over access to EU workers and only 5% thinks David Davis is doing a good job

A quarter of UK business leaders doubt that the government is prepared for Brexit

Photo: Twocoms/Shutterstock.com

Last week saw David Davis return to Brussels to continue negotiating the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. But while the Brexit secretary kicked off by saying that it was time to “get down to business”, a new survey suggests that businesses’ confidence in the government’s ability to negotiate a good deal is far from strong and stable.

Having surveyed 3,874 managers, directors and C-suite execs, MarketInvoice, the invoice-finance platform, revealed that 27% of the people polled believe the government has lost its way. Furthermore, 27% thought that the government wasn’t prepared for the negotiations, while only 5% felt that Davis was doing a great job. 

This doubt in the government’s ability to get the best deal for Britain is easy to understand considering that 53% said that market uncertainties are keeping them up at night, something that previous surveys have indicated is a significant worry for UK startups. However, while previous research has suggested that corporate Britain would be worried about losing out on foreign workers, only 8% of the people polled by MarketInvoice said that they were anxious about it. Additionally, just 15% were troubled by the stability of the government and only 1% felt worried about the weak pound.

If the government would like to reclaim the confidence of the business community, the survey suggested that it should focus more on securing a trade deal with the EU, which was the top priority of 58% UK business leaders. A fifth of business leaders said that foreign workers’ rights were a priority and 7% prioritised the stability of sterling.

The survey also looked at how companies are tackling the looming prospect of Brexit in their day-to-day business. Just over half of businesses reported that their hiring plans have been largely unaffected. Only 2% are proactively reducing their exposure to EU nationals in the coming months while 6% said they are reluctant to hire eluctant to hire eluctant to hire

Commenting on the survey, Anil Stocker, CEO and co-founder of MarketInvoice, said: “Business leaders are clearly focused on ensuring they are prepared to do business before worrying about people issues. Anecdotal feedback from this survey is that businesses in the UK are getting on with it but are clearly unsettled, which doesn’t make for a healthy business environment. The good news is that businesses, finally, feel that their voices are being heard by government but are not inspired with confidence with the negotiating efforts.”

With the UK and the EU reportedly at loggerheads about the size of the divorce bill, the rights of EU nationals in Britain and the influence of the European Court of Justice, it seems as if the government would do well to listen to the input of the country’s business leaders.

Eric Johansson
Eric Johansson

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