Business leaders would rather hold out for the best Brexit deal possible than get it over and done with quickly, a study out today has found.
According to research by the Institute of Directors, more than half (51 per cent) of the 1,092 members it surveyed after the referendum result was released prioritise getting a good deal over a quick exit. A further third (32 per cent) said that speed and getting the best deal should carry equal weight.
The Institute of Directors, which did not itself campaign in the run up to last week's referendum, also discovered that two-thirds (64 per cent) of its member feel that Friday's result is bad for their business, compared with a quarter (23 per cent) who view it as positive.
The study also found that more than a fifth (22 per cent) of members were now considering moving some of their operations outside the UK.
"Businesses will be busy working out how they are going to adapt and succeed after the referendum result," said Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors. "But we can’t sugar-coat this, many of our members are feeling anxious. A majority of business leaders think the vote for Brexit is bad for them, and as a result plans for investment and hiring are being put on hold or scaled back."
A spokesperson for the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) added: "This is not the decision that the majority of businesses had chosen and there will be economic challenges that will need to be overcome. But businesses are used to dealing with challenge and change, and we should be confident that they will adapt."
The result of the vote on EU membership has also thrown a spanner in the works for jobs. The Institute of Directors found that, while a third (32 per cent) of members plan to continue hiring at the same pace, around a quarter (23 per cent) were putting a freeze on hiring and five per cent would be making redundancies.
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However, Kevin Green, chief executive of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, highlighted that many businesses effectively have their hiring on hold at many points of the year and echoed the sentiment of employers who wanted to wait and see what the deal would be rather than jump the gun.
"I think what we would rather do, and I think businesses views are pretty consistent on this, is get the right deal for the long term, rather than any kind of rush to change everything because that creates more chaos," Green told City A.M.
Business secretary Sajid Javid revealed yesterday that he would be hosting a meeting with businesses tomorrow in a bid to avoid panic in the fallout of the referendum result.
The BBC has reported that the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC), the CBI and the Federation of Small Businesses will be among those attending.
Commenting on the referendum result the day it was announced, Dr Adam Marshall, BCC acting director general, stressed the need to restore a sense of certainty and clarity for businesses during the negotiation period.
"Business will also want to see a detailed plan to support the economy during the coming transition period – as confidence, investment, hiring and growth would all be deeply affected by a prolonged period of uncertainty," said Marshall. "If ever there were a time to ditch the straight-jacket of fiscal rules for investment in a better business infrastructure, this is it."