The poll, conducted by Ipsos MORI at last week’s event, surveyed around 2,000 attendees and revealed an unambiguous result with only 15% of businesses opting to leave the EU.
Additional questions were asked of Northern Powerhouse business leaders at the conference, such as what kind of impact there would be if the UK left the EU, in which the following responses were received:
· 57% thought Brexit would have a negative impact on the British economy;
· 54% thought Brexit would have a negative impact on the North of England specifically;
· 64% thought Brexit would have a negative impact on Britain’s trade with Europe;
· 57% thought Brexit would have a negative impact on foreign investment in the UK.
In contrast, 16% of business delegates thought Brexit would improve their company’s
prospects and only 17% of business delegates thought Brexit would have a positive impact on the Northern economy.
Keith Griffiths, Managing Director of the UK Northern Powerhouse International Conference & Exhibition said: “It’s crucial that Northern businesses have unrestricted access to a continental market of 500 million people in order to continue to grow, invest and create jobs.”
Associate Director of Ipsos MORI North, Matthew Bristow, added:“The findings of our survey conducted with business delegates attending the Conference supports our recent wider research with UK Captains of Industry (interviews with senior executives from the top 500 UK companies by turnover), in which 87% would prefer to remain in the EU.
“We are therefore starting to see a consistent message from businesses overwhelmingly rejecting the prospect of an exit from the EU.”
The two day conference at Manchester Central brought together a mix of sectors from across the Northern Powerhouse, including transport, logistics, property, energy, tech and retail.
Attendees heard talks from high profile figures across all sectors including Lord O’Neill, Commercial Secretary to the Treasury; Lord Prescott, Former Deputy Prime Minister and Sir David Higgins, Chairman of HS2, as well as high profile business leaders.
The conference also welcomed a number of major national businesses, including ASDA, BT and Manchester Airport Group, who had made their pro-European stance publically known in a letter to The Times just days before.
BQ will cover stories which are both for, and against, the referendum about Britain’s membership of the EU.