A third of UK firms mulling post-Brexit overseas moves

LONDON (AFP) – Almost a third of British companies are considering moving or setting up overseas operations because of Brexit, according to a survey published yesterday by business lobby group the Institute of Directors (IoD).

The IoD survey of over 1,200 company directors found that 16 per cent had already decided to relocate or open operations abroad due to Brexit, while a further 13 per cent said they were considering such plans.

Over a quarter of large businesses have already taken action or will do so in the future, compared with 12 per cent of small businesses.

The finance, manufacturing and science sectors were the most affected, with a third of manufacturers planning to set up foreign operations.

The European Union (EU) looks set to benefit the most, with 91 per cent of those planning new foreign operations looking to set up in the bloc.

“It brings no pleasure to reveal these worrying signs,” said IoD interim boss Edwin Morgan.

“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,” he added.

Britain’s MPs voted on Tuesday to send Prime Minister Theresa May back to Brussels to renegotiate the unpopular divorce deal she struck with the EU.

Brussels has ruled out any big changes to the deal, leaving Britain staring at a no-deal Brexit with only 56 days left until the official departure date, which would lead to the imposition of trade tariffs.

“The United Kingdom’s (UK’s) hard-won reputation as a stable, predictable environment for enterprise is being chipped away,” warned Morgan.

“Our political leaders must keep this in the front of their minds as we enter this critical phase of negotiations.”