Belfast Telegraph

Smaller firms across Northern Ireland 'in favour of Brexit'

By John Mulgrew

More small firms in Northern Ireland are in favour of the UK leaving the EU than big businesses, it's been claimed.

A study by the Federation for Small Businesses (FSB) here showed that while 54% of their members want to stay in the EU, almost a third want to leave, with the rest undecided.

That's significantly higher than the 19% of bigger businesses found to be in favour of Brexit in a survey by the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce.

The FSB was addressing the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee yesterday afternoon.

Northern Ireland chairman Wilfred Mitchell said: "Some people have tried to insist businesses are overwhelmingly pro-Europe.

"It's overly simplistic to describe business as a single cohesive block."

He said there are around 100,000 small firms here, which employ more than large businesses and the public sector.

Meanwhile, one academic has warned that any benefit Northern Ireland would get from a low corporation tax rate "could be reversed by a Brexit".

Dr Edgar Morgenroth of the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) in Dublin said: "With regards to trade, EU membership increases trade by about 20% compared to a bilateral trade agreement with the EU.

"Evidence also suggests that EU membership has been a key factor in attracting FDI to the UK from outside as well as inside the EU.

And CBI director Nigel Smyth said Northern Ireland benefits exponentially from being in the EU, costing us £83 a head each year, while gaining more than £1,200 back through the various "benefits and value of EU membership".

Belfast Telegraph