The Cornish tech industry is overwhelmingly in favour of Britain remaining within the EU, according to a new survey.
Industry group, Software Cornwall, asked members to set aside their personal views and consider the impact specifically on their own business.
And on the key referendum ‘leave or remain’ question, 84% of those polled want to remain, with 16% undecided.
The business owners and managers were also asked what they thought the impact of leaving the EU would be on their business, on a scale from ‘very adverse’ to ‘very beneficial’.
42% thought an exit would have a ‘very adverse’ impact; 37% thought ‘somewhat adverse’ and 21% considered it would be ‘neutral’. No respondents thought leaving the EU would have a beneficial or very beneficial effect.
Paul Clark from Packet Ship, a founding Software Cornwall member who organised the survey, said: “We were surprised at the clarity, depth and near unanimity of feeling in the industry on this issue compared to other small business surveys, which may reflect the more outward-looking viewpoint of the technology sector.”
Businesses were also asked to describe the risks or benefits to their business from a UK exit in their own words.
One respondent commented: “If we leave the EU I will have to choose between our UK customer base within a population of 65 million and our European customer base within a population of 770 million. We will move our base of operations to Europe and almost all our UK jobs will go.”
Others emphasised the benefits of EU membership on Cornwall’s economic development and skills base: “… ERDF/ESF funding for Cornwall as a whole has done and is continuing to do great things in promoting an information economy which we are part of, and I don’t believe the UK government would replace it.”
Another recurring topic of concern was around recruitment: “Leaving would be devastating on our large need to recruit. The most major (sic) concern of any larger company when considering sourcing IT is access to skilled people. Closing the borders will destroy the huge growth potential of the IT industry.”
The only potential benefit of an exit envisaged by one respondent was that reducing immigration from within the EU could potentially make it easier to recruit from outside it.