Small businesses 'want to remain in EU'
Britain's small businesses are broadly in favour of remaining a member of the European Union, it has been claimed.
A poll of more than 6,000 Federation of Small Business (FSB) members showed 47% would vote to stay if the referendum was held today, with 41% against and 11% undecided. Just over 1% said they would not vote or preferred not to say.
Views varied greatly by nation as expected, with the strongest support in Scotland where 60% of firms favour remaining and just 26% oppose it.
By contrast English firms remained deeply divided on the issue with 45% wishing to remain and 43% wanting out.
The survey also highlighted a worrying lack of clarity, with one in three members saying they did not feel informed about the EU from a business point of view.
How the nations voted:
:: Scotland 59.9% for; 25.7% against; 11.9% undecided
:: Northern Ireland 54.2% for; 31.3% against; 13.5% undecided
:: Wales 49.4% for; 38.6% against; 11.6% undecided
:: England 45.1% for; 43.1% against; 10.5% undecided
Regions where businesses are most in favour:
:: Scotland 59.9%
:: London 55.4%
:: Northern Ireland 54.2%
:: North East 51.3%
Regions where businesses are most opposed:
:: East Midlands 48.7%
:: Yorkshire and the Humber 47.8%
:: West Midlands 47.0%
:: East 42.6%
FSB policy director Mike Cherry said: "This research is a vital starting point in outlining the key issues and areas of concern for small businesses in the EU referendum debate.
"Regardless of what a firm's current position is, there is a shared message that small businesses feel they lack clear, impartial information on which to form their views.
"This is only the beginning of our work to support our members throughout this complex debate. Our role will be to ensure the small business voice is heard in the discussion, and that our members have all the information they need to make a decision which is right for them and their business."