In response to the overwhelming rejection of the Withdrawal Agreement by Parliament, techUK has today released results of a poll showing that 70 per cent of its members who responded to the survey believe that a No Deal Brexit in March 2019 would have a negative impact on their business. The survey also shows that 84 per cent of respondents believe the UK overall is unprepared for No Deal.
The poll, which was conducted in December ahead of the planned Parliamentary vote on the Withdrawal Agreement, sought the views of techUK members on what they thought should happen if Parliament failed to support the Withdrawal Agreement. techUK has consistently warned of the risks of No Deal and the need for an orderly exit that would allow for a close future relationship with the EU.
When asked to rank their preferences for what techUK should do if the Prime Minister’s deal failed to secure the support of Parliament, 51 per cent of the 276 respondents said that supporting calls for another referendum would be their first preference choice. Sixty three per cent of members selected a second referendum as one of their top three preferences. The second strongest first preference (16 per cent) was to support calls for a delay to Article 50 in order to allow time for further negotiations. It had almost equal support to a second referendum (64 per cent) when all three top preferences were taken into account.
Only 11 per cent of members responding viewed accepting No Deal as their first preference, with less than one third (27 per cent) listing it in their top three preferences. Very few respondents (2 per cent) selected a General Election as a first preference and only 25 per cent included it in their top three preferences.
The survey further suggests that while most larger firms (250+ staff) have taken steps to prepare for a No Deal Brexit, many smaller tech business are unprepared for the UK leaving without a deal, with 65 per cent of smaller firms (<50 staff), and 46 per cent of mid-sized businesses (50-249 staff) who responded to the survey, saying they have taken no active steps to prepare for No Deal. When asked why they have not taken steps to prepare for No Deal, many firms said it was because they were unable to predict what impact it would have (49 per cent) or were unsure what steps to take (37 per cent).
The survey also suggests that the majority of techUK members want a close relationship with the EU after Brexit, with six in ten respondents (59 per cent) supporting closer alignment with the EU compared to ‘looser’ alignment (29 per cent). techUK believes this runs counter to the view expressed in the Chequers White Paper that more flexibility over the rules surrounding the digital sector would be preferable post Brexit, even if it meant losing some access to EU markets.
Commenting on the survey, techUK CEO, Julian David, said:
“techUK has consistently warned of the dire risks of a disorderly exit from the EU. The Withdrawal Agreement would have provided a workable route forward, but this has been overwhelmingly rejected by Parliament. The UK now risks No Deal by default unless the deadlock can be broken.”
“Our polling suggests that many of our small and mid-sized members in particular do not have the resources or information needed to effectively prepare for No Deal. They want a deal that works and a future relationship that retains a high level of alignment and access to the EU market on issues that matter to the sector, such as the free flow of data, regulation and the availability of talent. We believe a simple ‘Canada-style’ free trade agreement would not be an acceptable outcome for most of techUK’s members.”
“Parliament has rejected the Withdrawal Agreement and now needs to find a workable way forward to break the deadlock. All alternative options now need to be considered including putting the question back to the public.”
Notes to editors:
- Find the full blog post with analysis here.
- Full results of the survey can be found here.
- The survey was conducted online through Ipsos MORI and ran from 30 November to 10 December 2018, with all analysis and interpretation undertaken by techUK
- They survey was issued to 773 techUK members and received 276 responses (a 36 per cent response rate). Data are unweighted.