British businesses favour barrier-free trade with the EU

Just 6 per cent of British businesses want the government to prioritise curbing immigration during the Brexit negotiations, research finds.

Some 74 per cent of business respondents want the government to focus on securing barrier-free trade with the EU, according to a new report into the impact protectionism and Brexit will have on trade from GS1 UK.

The findings are based on a survey of more than 1,000 British businesses, employing in excess of 100,000 people.

Theresa May has said that, while Britain will be outside the single market, it may be possible to preserve some of our access to it – even if that means Britain continuing to make financial contributions to the EU.

Almost half (49 per cent) of respondents say they would prefer the UK to continue making financial contributions to the EU to preserve access for trade while just a third (33 per cent) say they would prefer the money was spent on cutting taxes here in the UK.

The report also finds 59 per cent of British businesses are worried EU leaders will impose tariffs on UK trade as a penalty for leaving to the EU.

The poll suggests British businesses are not reassured by economic arguments suggesting Brexit will work because the EU needs it to – that tariffs cut both ways and that no matter what happens, Germany will still want to sell its cars to Britain, as will France its wine.

GS1 UK also polled business on their preference for a new trade deal: 76 per cent view an EU/UK trade deal as more important than a US/UK deal.

Gary Lynch, CEO of GS1 UK says, ‘In the Brexit negotiations, business is clear. Gaining access to the single market for British exports should take priority over rolling back the free movement of people.

‘And if we have to pay for access to the EU, then so be it. British business tells us loud and clear that a trade deal with the EU is even more important to them than a deal with the US.’

Further reading on barrier-free trade

Ben Lobel

Delphine Hintz

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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