Norway follows EU rules for goods and services but doesn't play as big a part as other EU members in shaping them

Norway follows EU rules for goods and services but doesn’t play as big a part as other EU members in shaping them

New figures reveal that 55pc of small businesses would want rules similar to Norway for goods and services post-Brexit.

This means we would stay in the single market and continue to follow EU rules for goods and services with reduced influence on said rules. We’d retain our full continued access to the EU market and free movement.

Justin Donne, who runs a consultancy in Nottingham, sources products from France, Germany and Italy as well as Amazon and suppliers from the USA. He believes that staying in the single market is important.

“If all of a sudden there are customs charges [for exchanging goods in the EU], I’ll be reticent to make purchases – and so will businesses over there.

“Some things I need aren’t available in the UK. I would love to find local goods but I’ll likely be forced to find alternatives which could be inferior,” he told

Feelings of optimism and doubt

Despite the uncertainty around Brexit, business leaders are feeling positive. A poll of almost a thousand members of the Institute of Directors (IoD) shows that the majority of firms managed to grow over the past year, with 13pc at least doubling their turnover.

However, half of the respondents thought Brexit would be negative versus only 10pc who believed it to be a good move. They were also twice as likely to be worried about a no-deal (48pc) than a further extension (22pc).

Which of the following would you consider to be more negative for your (primary) organisation?

A no-deal on 31 October this year 48pc
An extension/further extension beyond 31 October 22pc
Neither would be negative for my organisation 16pc
Don’t know 14pc

Source: Institute of Directors

Contrary to increasingly polarised views, the greatest proportion of respondents saw Brexit as both a threat and an opportunity (39pc). A slightly smaller figure saw it as ‘more of a threat’ (34pc) and 15pc ‘more of an opportunity’.

Donne, who took part in the IoD poll, adds: “Brexit will provide opportunities. To me, it’s not a good thing or a bad thing, it’s just a thing. It comes down to the single market as we can’t have something with 30-50 different trade agreements.”

“Unknown facts are opportunities such as trade deals with the US and China. But really, we don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m equally worried about both no-deal and an extension because I think that they are both equally dangerous. I’ve made the choice not to worry about it.”

As for current conditions, the three issues that have the largest negative impact on businesses are UK economic conditions (48pc), concern over Brexit (37pc) and business taxes (23pc). The skills gap (17pc), late payments (16pc) and access to finance (16pc) are also significant issues.

Edwin Morgan, director of policy at the Institute of Directors, said:

“The UK is a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity, helped by easy access to European markets, talent and investment. Many company founders are understandably nervous that this could be undermined.

“It’s often said that entrepreneurs thrive on change, and in many respects, they are great disrupters of existing companies and markets. Start-ups, however, want to spend more time on creating great new products and services and less on dealing with political uncertainty. Making sure the process of Brexit is as smooth as possible is the best thing governments, both here and in the EU, can do to promote the entrepreneurial spirit that creates dynamic economies.”

Donne worries about the lack of resources his fellow entrepreneurs have to deal with the situation. “Small businesses love disruption but not this upheaval and chaos,” he said.

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Businesses would be hit by annual £15bn customs bill under no-deal Brexit

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