European Movement launches Brexit and Business Impact Report

Published on November 16, 2023

A comprehensive new survey of UK businesses by European Movement UK (EM UK) shows just how difficult UK-EU trade has become for British businesses, causing huge damage across multiple business sectors, and ongoing harm to the UK economy.

More than 70% of respondents said that leaving the EU had affected their business very negatively. More than half said new red tape had made trading with the EU increasingly difficult, calling it ‘the single biggest obstacle’ to doing business with our largest trading partner. And 40% highlighted problems with finding staff since the loss of Freedom of Movement.   

Image courtesy of EM Wandsworth & Merton.


Sir Vince Cable, Vice President of European Movement UK, said: 

“The research by European Movement UK shows just how much ongoing damage is still being done by Brexit. Devastating barriers to trading with the EU have forced some companies out of business. Red tape, lack of workers, huge hikes in overheads - Britain’s small and medium enterprises have sustained a disproportionate amount of the damage.” 

From almost 2000 UK businesses that responded from across the UK, a striking 94% said leaving the single market and customs union has had a negative effect. Hundreds reported having to reduce their workforce hours, make staff redundant, or even close entirely. 

Companies across sectors including engineering, agriculture, hospitality and finance reported they had lost business in the EU, and been made uncompetitive by new red-tape.  

Hugh Chapman runs Long Mynd Cider in Bishops Castle, Shropshire. A Europe-wide organisation was interested in buying and distributing his products, but the life-changing deal fell through: “The administration around Brexit meant they were no longer interested. It’s economically impossible to trade with Europe at present.” 

Carolowned a bespoke lingerie business in the South West - but closed her business due to Brexit. Her small lingerie business used fabrics imported from Europe. She said, ‘I did everything I could to prepare for Brexit. The reality of sending garments to the EU was a nightmare. I had goods that spent ages in transit and were then returned for ‘incorrect customs information’. The business was losing money, so I decided to close. Brexit was the final nail in the coffin.”

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