At a recent London event hosted by leading executive search firm Odgers Berndston, over 100 top business leaders were polled on their view of a hard Brexit. Only 1% believed that a hard Brexit would positively impact their companies. This damning verdict comes from some of Britain’s biggest companies including Sainsbury’s, BT, RBS and HSBC.
The dinner was addressed by former Chancellor George Osborne. He shared his pessimistic outlook for Britain’s economic future, describing Brexit as “an historic mistake,” and went on to state that “the most likely outcome is the UK entering a semi-permanent transition where the only thing that changes is that we give up the control we currently have.”
The views of Britain’s top business leaders echoed Osborne’s sentiment. Fifty-seven percent of attendees told Odgers Berndston that they were not confident in Britain’s medium-term economic prospects, and 3% even went as far as to say that they were “terrified”.
The poll also included questions on their preferred outcome for Brexit, in which over half of respondents (53%) wanted Brexit negotiations to stop all together and the process be completely reversed, while 41% of the remaining 47% wanted an interim or transition agreement.
Kit Bingham, Head of Board Practice at Odgers Berndston, lamented that the polling results show “we’ve now seen the economic projection for a hard Brexit and British business leaders don’t buy it.”
This came just hours after the first economic impact report of a hard Brexit by the Economists for Free Trade (EFT) group. The EFT report claims that Brexit could boost the UK economy by as much as £135bn annually. Clearly, this report has not impacted the outlook of Britain’s top business leaders who remain unquestionably discouraged by current Brexit proceedings and the possibility of a hard Brexit.