UK Business increasingly downbeat as Brexit draws closer

22 December 2017

82% are pessimistic about what 2018 and 2019 will bring
55% say Brexit will be “very bad” for the UK economy
Number of business people expecting another member state to leave the EU has halved in 12 months

 

Pessimism about Britain’s Brexit future has spread through British business, as revealed in Eden McCallum’s fifth annual economic outlook survey.

A survey of 222 UK business leaders shows that, while a year ago 20% still had positive expectations about the next 1-2 years, only half that many do today. 82% of respondents are pessimistic about what 2018 and 2019 will bring. (In contrast, in the 2015 survey over 70% were optimistic about the UK’s economic prospects for the next 1-2 years.)

 

 

Over half – 55% – say that Brexit will be “very bad” for the UK economy – more than double last year’s “very bad” response – with another 28% saying it will be “bad”. It is clear that businesses’ negativity on Brexit has hardened significantly in the past 12 months.

 

 

Dena McCallum, co-founder of Eden McCallum, says: “As the prospect of Brexit draws nearer UK businesses are growing severely pessimistic about what is coming next. While there are encouraging signs of growth on the continent – and UK businesses share in the optimism felt by others about Europe’s prospects – back home the mood is much less sunny.”

A survey of almost 200 Dutch businesses, carried out at the same time by Eden McCallum, finds that 89% are feeling
optimistic about the future of the Dutch economy over the next 1-2 years.

 

 

Other details to emerge from the UK survey include:

There is an expectation that it will take a long time to reach a post-Brexit deal (48% say beyond March 2021/the end of a two-year transition). 72% say the uncertainty is having an impact on their company’s ability to plan.

Businesses have become more concerned about the US and less concerned about China as the source of a future global financial crisis. Concerns about the US have grown from 6% to 23% over the past two years, while the likelihood of China being the source of the next global financial crisis fell from 61% to 44% between 2015 and 2017.

A mini survey of Swiss business leaders (33 companies), also carried out by Eden McCallum at the same time, indicated that they considered Brexit less of a threat (71% said it would make no difference to them). But Swiss businesses were most certain that Brexit would definitely take place in the next five years (91% thought so – the equivalent figures for the UK were 87% and 78% in the Netherlands) and that their economy would benefit from it (20%).

 

Ends


Eden McCallum’s Economic Outlook Survey

Eden McCallum’s survey was conducted online with their clients and other senior business leaders in the UK and the Netherlands, across all sectors and both publicly listed and private companies and partnerships. Responses were gathered between 15th and 28th November 2017, and at the same time of year in previous years. In 2017 there were 222 respondents to the UK survey.