Nearly a third of UK firms considering move abroad due to Brexit

Nearly a third of British firms are considering moving their businesses abroad because of Brexit, according to a new report.

A study of 1,200 company directors by the Institute of Directors revealed that nearly one in three (29 percent) could be forced to move their businesses abroad due to Brexit, while 16 percent had already made the decision to relocate or were planning to. A further 11 percent said that Brexit had or would lead to them shifting some operations abroad.

“It brings no pleasure to reveal these worrying signs, but we can no more ignore the real consequences of delay and confusion than business leaders can ignore the hard choices that they face in protecting their companies,” said Edwin Morgan, interim director general of the Institute of Directors. “Change is a necessary and often positive part of doing business, but the unavoidable disruption and increased trade barriers that no-deal would bring are entirely unproductive."

UK firms looking overseas as Brexit looms

While more large companies had already moved their operations, the survey revealed that small firms were almost twice as likely to be actively considering the move. “While the actions of big companies have been making headlines, these figures suggest that smaller enterprises are increasingly considering taking the serious step of moving some operations abroad,” Morgan continued. “For these firms, typically with tighter resources, to be thinking about such a costly course of action makes clear the precarious position they are in."

With just two months left until the UK is due to leave the EU, it’s not just companies who are feeling nervous. Last month, a report by Natwest and Retail Economics found that Brexit uncertainty topped the list of British consumer concerns heading into 2019. Almost half (48 percent) of respondents said that Brexit is their biggest concern in 2019, beating ‘a weaker economy’ (13 percent) and ‘lack of savings’ (12 percent).

Morgan continued: “We still have a chance to stem the flow, and provide enough certainty to the firms that are considering moving but haven’t yet done so. The UK’s hard-won reputation as a stable, predictable environment for enterprise is being chipped away. Our political leaders must keep this in the front of their minds as we enter this critical phase of negotiations.”

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