THREE out of five small businesses in Scotland want the UK to stay in the European Union (EU), according to a new survey.
Research by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) found that almost 60 per cent of members in Scotland would vote yes in a referendum on EU membership.
The figure is significantly higher than the UK-wide figure who would vote yes, which stands at 47 per cent, and is the highest yes vote among all the UK nations.
FSB surveyed 6,263 of its members, including 571 in Scotland, to gather information on voting intentions and views on EU reform ahead of the UK Government’s planned in-out vote.
It found that, overall, 47 per cent of UK businesses would vote to stay in the EU while almost 41 per cent would vote to leave. Almost 11 per cent said they did not know while the remainder did not plan to vote, were not eligible to vote or preferred not to say.
In Scotland, almost 60 per cent would vote to stay, with only 25.7 per cent opting to leave, compared with around 45 per cent in England voting to stay and around 43 per cent voting to leave.
Among members who would currently vote for the UK to remain a member of the EU, more than a third would like to see powers transferred back to the UK while about a quarter would like the EU to remain in its current form.
Among members who would vote for the UK to leave the EU, the most popular outcome was improving trade links with the rest of the world.
Almost 43 per cent of the no vote would like the UK to withdraw from the EU and concentrate on strengthening its trade links across the globe.
The research found that over a third of members did not feel informed about the referendum “from a business point of view”.
The UK Government is currently renegotiating EU membership terms, with Prime Minister David Cameron indicating that a vote will take place before 2017 if possible.
Mike Cherry, the FSB’s policy director, said: “This research is a vital starting point in outlining the key issues and areas of concern for small businesses in the EU referendum debate.
“Regardless of what a firm’s current position is, there is a shared message that small businesses feel they lack clear, impartial information on which to form their views.”
Andy Willox, Scottish policy convenor, said: “During this debate, the FSB’s role will be to ensure the small business voice is heard.
“Our approach will reflect the one we took during the independence referendum: ensuring that our members have the information they need to make the decision which is right for them and their business.”