Britain’s road haulage SMEs drive towards Brexit

Posted On: 
15th June 2016

A survey of Road Haulage Association members finds an overall majority in favour of Brexit, although 80% of larger firms back Remain.

A clear majority of Road Haulage Association (RHA) members believe that leaving the European Union would be in the best interests of their companies, a survey has shown

The results show that 61% are in favour of their company leaving the EU, while 30% wish to remain part of the EU and 10% are still undecided.

The results are in stark contrast to a number of other surveys conducted in similar industrial and commercial sectors, indicating that companies would prefer to remain within the EU.

The survey also indicates that opinion is sharply divided between smaller and larger hauliers.  Among the SME member organisations (operating less than 65 vehicles), 62% expressed a desire to leave, and only 28% felt they should remain.  By comparison, the majority of companies running larger fleets of vehicles showed they wanted to remain, seizing 80% of the vote.  Only 17% of those larger companies felt they would benefit from leaving the EU.

The RHA remains neutral on the referendum, but commenting on the results, chief executive Richard Burnett said:  “The numbers speak for themselves.  They show a very strong difference of view between SME and larger haulage companies.  And it is a reality that a significant proportion of those saying they believe ‘Leave’ is in their best interests cite wider political reasons. 

“It’s also clear that many of our members are frustrated by what they see as a lack of clear independent facts in the debate,” he added.

Opinions expressed by members wishing to leave the EU included the perception that membership of the EU had increased the regulatory burden, and helped foreign hauliers compete unfairly. Many also cited wider political reasons for their decision.  There is also concern over issues such as trucks from abroad crossing UK borders filled with cheap diesel to avoid paying fuel duty.  Another concern was that companies from outside the UK are able to hire cheaper labour, making it difficult for hauliers to compete.

Opinions expressed by members wishing to remain included the importance of membership for trade.

Other respondents expressed frustration at what they see as a lack of clear unbiased factual arguments on both sides.