“Brexit”, supported by David Cameron, is being fervently questioned during this pre-electoral period, thereby revealing a very divided British public opinion on the question of whether or not to stay in the EU.
Business leaders opposed to EU withdrawal
According to a survey conducted by Ipsos-Mori, only 1% of the entrepreneurs interviewed are in favor of EU withdrawal, also referred to as “Brexit”. 45% of them are satisfied with the current situation and another 45% wish that EU-UK relations undergo some changes.
The advantages perceived of EU membership are mainly the easiness of cross-border trade, access to European consumers and participation in the single market.
Among the changes that are currently being called for is the simplification of regulations in areas including taxes and employment.
Evidently, the EU is perceived more favorably by business leaders than by British public opinion in general. In this regard, it should be noted that 17% of the interviewees are in favor of “Brexit”.
Tony Blair’s criticism
During a speech in Sedgefield, former Prime Minister Tony Blair declared that organizing a referendum, as it is desired by the conservatives, would lead to chaos and uncertainty. According to Blair, if the Tories win the general elections of May 7th, British businesses would plunge into a period of great uncertainty and British society would have to face “the most intense instability since the war”.
“Brexit”, a way towards increased regional inequalities in the UK?
The Center for European Reform released on April 7th a report entitled “Disunited Kingdom: why “Brexit” endangers Britain’s poorer regions” that shows that EU withdrawal would be more detrimental to the poorest regions of the UK than to richer ones because poorer regions are more dependent on export to the EU. Indeed, exports to the EU account for 15 per cent of private sector output in the North East of England, one of Britain’s poorest regions, compared to 9 per cent in the South West of England and Scotland, two of its richer regions.