MORE THAN half of small business owners want the UK to join the European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA) once Brexit is complete, Funding Circle research has found.
A survey of 1,254 borrowers on the peer-to-peer lending platform found 57 per cent would support EFTA, also known as the ‘Norway option,’ as it provides a regional free trade area comprising of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.
By joining EFTA the UK could retain access to the European single market , Funding Circle said on Wednesday.
Small business owners highlighted a number of benefits of EFTA, with 59 per cent backing the ease of exporting and importing and 46 per cent citing the accessible customer base, while 42 per cent highlighted the lower tariffs.
Only 15 per cent said they do not want to join EFTA.
Regardless of the uncertainty caused by Brexit, 40 per cent of respondents were feeling optimistic about the state of the economy, while two thirds said they are expecting to see an increase in turnover over the next 12 months.
The poll also found increasing numbers of businesses are now backing Labour, up seven per cent from the last survey in April.
If an election were held today, 20 per cent of borrowers said they intended to vote Labour and 37 per cent would support the Conservative Party.
“Small business owners are clearly doing their homework on Brexit and researching all the possible options,” James Meekings, co-founder of Funding Circle, said.
“It’s evident that joining the EFTA is a priority within the small business community and it’s important that we listen to ensure we achieve the best possible outcome for their growth and success.”