A new report reveals that just 19 per cent of business leaders believe that Brexit will be good for business.
The survey of 130 chief financial officers (CFOs) of leading UK companies 60 per cent believe the business environment will be more challenging when the UK exits the EU upon completion of the Article 50 negotiations in 2019.
Brexit continues to top the risk list but with a lower reading than in the past two quarters. Also among the top three risks are weak demand in Britain and the prospect of interest rate rises in the US and the UK.
The poll does however show that nearly a third of those surveyed are feeling more optimistic about business prospects than they were three months ago, the highest level since the second quarter of 2015, when 35 per cent were more optimistic.
In a separate interview with the Mail on Sunday, the new director-general of the Institute of Directors, Stephen Martin, who voted to leave the European Union, defends Brexit, saying it will be good for British business.
Mr Martin says that regulation from Brussels was his main reason for voting out and it is here he argues there can be some immediate gains for business. He also says there will be some tax benefits to companies from Brexit.
“Small businesses are currently required to register for VAT if their turnover exceeds £83,000; this is the maximum permitted by the EU. Following Brexit, we will have the ability to introduce a much higher compulsory threshold, like £150,000, and this will reduce the compliance burden on small businesses with minimal VAT inputs,” Mr Martin says.
The Federation of Small Businesses’ (FSB) Mike Cherry adds in a separate statement that the Great Repeal Bill* published last week, which will transfer EU regulations into domestic UK law, and should eventually allow for an overhaul of some of the more burdensome processes, should provide SMEs with some “stability and certainty that Brexit will not mean sudden big changes in regulation over the next two years.”
SMEs and entrepreneurs should use the two-year period following the triggering of Article 50 to minimise Brexit disruption by reviewing and adjusting their business models, including their supply chain, products and services and methods of acquiring and retaining talent.
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*The Government has published guidance for businesses on the Great Repeal Bill.