Confidence among business leaders in the Government's ability to deliver a good Brexit deal has dropped to its lowest level in over a year, according to a new survey by the leading audit, tax and consulting firm RSM.
The quarterly Brexit Monitor, conducted by YouGov prior to the recent Salzburg meeting, surveyed more than 300 mid-market business leaders and found that just 39 per cent said they were confident in the Government's ability to achieve a 'good deal'. This was down from around a half (49 per cent) of respondents in the last quarter and represents the lowest level since the survey was first carried out in the second quarter (Q2) of 2017.
Meanwhile, the percentage of those who said they lacked confidence in the Government's ability to secure a good deal more than doubled, rising to 35 per cent, up from 16 per cent in the previous quarter. Again, this was the highest level since the survey started.
For the first time, the survey also canvassed business opinions towards a second referendum.
60 per cent of respondents said they were either fully in favour of, or would broadly welcome, a second referendum on the terms of the UK's exit from the European Union. Meanwhile, sixteen per cent said they would either not welcome, or would strongly oppose a second referendum.
Support for a second referendum was highest in London and the South (at 67 per cent respectively), while Scotland was the least favourable towards a second referendum with just 47 per cent in favour, and the most strongly opposed with 27 per cent against.
Simon Hart, Brexit lead partner at leading audit, tax and consulting firm RSM said:
'As we get closer to Article 50 Brexit day and therefore the end of the negotiation period, and with both parties seemingly at an impasse, our Brexit Monitor survey shows that middle-market businesses are getting more concerned about the UK Government's ability to secure a good deal. The publication of the Government’s technical notices, outlining the implications of a 'No Deal' scenario, may have also dampened optimism in the prospects of a good deal.
'Our survey also found a majority of business leaders in favour of a second referendum on the terms of the exit deal. Despite that, the Government's position suggests that this is not an option that's currently on the table.
'All eyes will now be on the EU summit in mid-October, described by Donald Tusk as 'the moment of truth'. Many businesses will be hoping for some much-needed progress from both the EU and the UK.'