UK business leaders will vote to remain in the EU

May 19, 2016

Sixty per cent of UK business leaders will vote to remain in the European Union (the EU), according to a pulse survey of its clients by Harvey Nash, the global professional and executive recruitment group.

When asked how strong their opinion was, 60 per cent answered that there was nothing that would persuade them to change their minds. This contrasts starkly with the 32 per cent that are expecting to vote leave, where just over half, 54 per cent, were of the same opinion.

The survey, of almost 700 UK business people, was released in conjunction with Harvey Nash’s Annual Business Lecture with Lord Digby Jones, held at the Crowne Plaza in Birmingham this morning, which focused on the EU debate and what is best for Britain.

Those that plan to vote to remain in the EU appear to be much more convinced that the rest of the country will follow suit, with 86 per cent of these voters believing that this will be the outcome. Voters that want to leave are unsure that they will have the majority of votes in their favour, with only 50 per cent thinking that leave will be the end-result of the referendum.

Despite this referendum being billed as a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to decide the future of the UK, there were still a fifth of respondents that don’t feel well informed about the decision they will be making, suggesting both sides still have some work to do in putting their arguments across.

For those as yet undecided, the majority seem to be more in agreement with the leave campaign’s arguments, with 68 per cent agreeing that EU rules are too restrictive for business to flourish, 66 per cent agreeing that the membership charge is excessive and could be put to better use and 60 per cent agree that the freedom of movement has a negative impact on our security.

The survey also asked whether David Cameron’s support for remaining in the EU had affected his political standing and influence. Thirty nine per cent of respondents believe he has been weakened by this, but a fifth believe his influence has actually strengthened.

Albert Ellis, CEO Harvey Nash Group said: 
“This survey of senior business leaders across the UK confirms that the Stronger In Europe (Remain) campaign is gaining over the Brexiteers by a significant margin and the reason for this is clear. We have seen the risk of Brexit negatively affect business confidence already with firms delaying decisions to hire until the referendum is over. 
As a global recruitment company, we’ve placed thousands of skilled UK professionals in Europe easily without the need for visas or unnecessary bureaucracy and seen first-hand the benefit the single market brings to the flexible UK labour market. 

A good job and a healthy economy is the aspiration of every citizen, no matter what their political persuasion, and business leaders know that an exit from the world’s largest and most prosperous trading bloc is likely to negatively impact business confidence leading to a likely freeze in recruitment.

Whilst it appears as if Britain is unlikely to vote to exit the European Union, this survey also reveals the high risk that the undecided vote breaks at the last minute in favour of leaving. So whatever your view it is important we continue to have the debate, particularly for the one in five UK business leaders who still feel insufficiently informed on the topic. There is still time for many twists and turns before the vote itself on 23rd June.”

Access smarter and faster talent recruitment