NORTH East business owners are displaying a growing scepticism about the benefits of European membership, according to a new survey.
The latest Close Brothers Business Barometer has shown that as many as 38% of SME owner managers in the North East believe that the UK should leave the EU.
Of these respondents, 58% feel that struggling European countries threaten to bring the UK down with them and a further 32% simply stated that our economy would be better off if we were to leave the EU.
CEO of Close Brothers Asset Finance, Mike Randall said: “Business owners seem to be questioning how much the EU really costs the UK. It’s not just how much we currently contribute to the budget that is worrying – it was approximately £12bn in 2012 – but also how much they’re asking us to contribute over the next two years, a total rise of 5%.
“When we joined the EEC some 40 years ago we thought we were joining a large, prosperous market but the reality now is that the benefits are being questioned. As a nation we continue to struggle financially and the mood is that the never-ending Eurozone crisis could threaten to bring the UK down with it,” he said.
The survey also revealed that of those who don’t think the UK should quit the EU, 46% think that it could easily isolate us and that being part of the European community offers significant advantages when it comes to competing in a global marketplace.
“What’s clear is that firms across the UK are seeking stability and reassurance that their best efforts to recover won’t be thwarted by a greater force. The government appears to be making plans for a more flexible agreement with Europe that will protect the best interests of British industry and business.
“Hopefully any new settlement will make businesses here feel comfortable and supported in their plans for future growth,” he added.