A recent survey for IP Expo has shown that IT Professionals want the UK to say Yes to EU when the promised referendum comes around.
We are still a year or more away from the UK going to the polls to decide on whether to stay in the EU but the pollsters are already on a war footing. The latest poll on whether the UK should stay or leave Europe has been conducted for IP Expo Europe by Grant Thornton.
According to Bradley Maule-ffinch, IP EXPO Europe’s director of strategy, says: “With economic uncertainty at an all-time high, it’s a critical time for businesses in the European Union. It’ll be interesting to see how business confidence changes in the coming months.”
IT Pros very keen to say Yes to EU membership
Asked the question: “Does the UK being part of the European Union give you greater business confidence”, the majority verdict was a Yes to EU membership. What is interesting about the numbers behind the poll is that only Northern Ireland failed to achieve a majority Yes vote with both the Yes and No camps tied on 43%. Luckily there is time for both to chase the elusive Don’t Know voters.
Across the rest of the UK the most positive towards EU membership is Scotland where an overwhelming 81% voted Yes. This mirrors sentiment from polls around Scottish independence where there was a lot of concern in Scotland as to whether any succession from the UK would affect its European standing.
Greater London has the second highest Yes vote (76%) which should surprise nobody. The IT market in the capital is a very cosmopolitan mix with workers from all over Europe drawn to the higher salaries that London delivers. London is also one of the hottest places for tech start-ups with a lot of European companies taking advantage of the infrastructure and technical skills available in the capital.
There are still areas where the Yes campaign will need to do a lot of work. Where the Red and White Roses are still seen as battle flags for sports if not business, both regions struggled to a 52% vote in favour of the EU. These two regions are seen as competing for the UK’s Northern powerhouse for technology and financial services. As a result, it might have been expected that they would be more positive towards the EU. Apparently not.
Business sectors positive but some have reservations
From an industry perspective manufacturing and engineering threw up a surprise. Despite having been decimated over the past four decades and unable to compete with Germany and the former Eastern European economies 84% (manufacturing) and 85% (engineering) voted Yes. One suspects that had this been taken on the shop floor rather than among IT pros, the result would have been very different.
There were mixed messages from public sector workers. Local authority workers who have gained substantially from judgements in the European Court of Justice over the last decade were keen to stay in Europe (67%). However, looking at the wider Public Sector results only 49% were keen to say Yes although just 34% were a categorical No. With the Public Sector unions promoting a Yes vote already, this suggests that there is a distinct difference, at least among IT workers, between what their unions think and how they will vote.
This is a relatively small survey and a long way from the actual vote taking place it does show that in the very narrow IT worker sector membership of the EU is seen as a positive thing. Will this still be the case when the real referendum takes place? Who knows, but for the business lobby who are very pro Europe, this will be seen as another indicator that they may win the day when it arrives.