Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have called on the British government to maintain links to the European single market even after the country leaves the European Union.
A new survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) canvassed the views of a representative sample of 566 SMEs from across Britain with an estimated combined turnover exceeding £5.7 billion, revealing that trade deals and market access are considered to be more important post-Brexit considerations than immigration targets, environmental legislation and emission goals.
The post-referendum survey revealed that 66 per cent of firms are looking to Westminster to focus on sealing a deal to provide the UK with continued access to the single market after Brexit, while 62 per cent also want trade deals to be put in place to help them access non-EU markets.
When asked about their preferred export markets, Germany was far and away the top priority market in the EU, cited by 67 per cent of respondents. By contrast, the next most frequent choices were France and Ireland, which were mentioned by only five per cent and three per cent respectively of those polled.
However, despite this focus on trade, only 38 per cent of companies say they have a clear plan to drive growth in the aftermath of Brexit, with 46 per cent saying the government should focus on providing support for UK exporters looking to expand outside the EU.
Tony Price, UK partner at PwC, said: "Our survey paints a picture of SMEs largely united in urging the government to maintain the status quo in terms of access to the single market, to open up new markets and to support companies as they realign export activities.
"However, the companies themselves are often uncertain of the most appropriate course of action to prepare for a UK outside the EU."