Seven in ten technology business leaders would like the UK to remain a member of the European Union, according to a new poll.
Trade association techUK, whose members employ around half of all tech sector jobs in the UK, polled 277 business leaders to discover a clear support among the technology community to be in the EU.
Just 15% of those surveyed were in favour of leaving the EU, while another 15% were undecided. Three-quarters of respondents represented SMEs.
The respondents in support of a vote to remain said EU membership makes the UK more attractive to international investment (76%) and makes the UK more globally competitive (71%).
Three-quarters said it gives companies a better deal on trading relationships within the EU (75%), while 42% believed the UK would create more jobs by staying in.
Pro-EU companies said a vote to leave would create more risk and uncertainty for their business (73%), make the UK less attractive to foreign investment (65%), and give the UK less influence on the issues that impact their business (58%).
Those in support of Brexit said the UK would have more flexibility in a global economy (91%), be more globally competitive (64%), and give the UK a better deal in its relationships with the rest of the world (58%). A quarter (24%) believed the UK would create more jobs outside the EU.
These respondents said the main drawback of remaining in the EU is that the UK does not have sufficient influence in the EU (64%), while 54% pointed to the regulatory burdens imposed.
A majority of all respondents, regardless of their position on EU membership, agreed the EU is good for business.
A clear majority of all techUK members said key EU policies have a positive impact on their ability to buy and sell (69%) and trade and invest (64%) in Europe.
Very few respondents said key EU policies had a negative impact on their businesses. Just 3% of all respondents said EU membership had a negative impact on their ability to invest and do business across Europe and only 3% thought that the EU trade policies had a negative impact on their ability to trade outside of the EU.
However, the majority of members said they would still have to comply with EU rules even if the UK left the EU. Two thirds (66%) of all respondents sell products and services in the EU that would still have to comply with EU rules, even if the UK votes to leave. Any change to the UK’s relationship with the EU will impact these companies the most.
“UK tech is thriving, creating jobs almost three times faster than the rest of the economy,” said Julian David, CEO of techUK. “The vast majority of our members say that being in the EU supports that growth. Open markets and cooperation are good for business. This is not about fear, it is about opportunity – a market of 500 million consumers.
“Most of these companies, large and small, have customers and or suppliers across the EU. They are saying they will still have to comply with EU rules, whatever the UK decides on 23 June. A British exit would mean the UK giving up control over how those rules are set. That could put UK businesses at a real disadvantage.”