Six out of 10 business leaders want MPs to back a Brexit deal that would see the UK closely aligned to the EU’s single market in goods and services, according to a survey by the Institute of Directors.
In a poll of its members, the lobby group also found that 55 per cent of company directors said that any Brexit deal had to ensure that the UK could align its tariffs with those of the EU.
The survey of nearly 1,400 members, conducted between March 14 and 21, comes as MPs start voting on Wednesday on a range of alternatives to Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
The institute, whose members contain a high proportion of directors of small and medium enterprises, said its survey showed that business leaders wanted the House of Commons to opt for a soft Brexit in coming days.
That suggests a majority of institute members could favour the “Common Market 2.0” model that keeps the UK in the single market and customs union; or Labour’s commitment to “close alignment” with the single market together with permanent customs union membership.
Edwin Morgan, the institute’s interim director-general, said he hoped MPs would take into account what business wanted when voting tomorrow.
“While our members may be split on the question of another referendum, the preference for alignment to secure continued [single market] access after Brexit is clearer to see,” he said.
“Politicians who claim to prioritise the UK’s future economic success must take account of the views of business leaders, who understand better than anyone the impact of the changes that are coming to our relationship with our largest trading partner.”
In the survey, 59 per cent of members agreed with the statement that the UK should continue to follow single market rules for goods to ensure continued frictionless trade with the EU.
This was more than double the 27 per cent who agreed with the statement: “The UK should ensure it can diverge from single market rules for goods.”
The call for close alignment was especially high in the information and computer technology sector where 69 per cent of directors were in favour.
On the question of tariffs, differences were narrower. Some 55 per cent agreed “the UK should continue aligning its tariffs with the EU’s to ensure frictionless trade with the EU”. But 36 per cent said “the UK should ensure it can completely differentiate its tariffs from the EU’s”.