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Brexit already having negative impact on UK business: survey

Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - More than half of British business leaders believe the vote to leave the European Union has had a negative impact on their companies but most firms are confident they can survive the change, according to a survey on Monday.

Britain's economy has performed more strongly than expected since the Brexit vote last June, but an Ipsos Mori survey of more than 100 of the country's top 500 firms found that 58 percent felt the vote to leave had taken a toll.

According to the survey, more than two thirds of those questioned said they had already taken action to respond to the vote, including putting contingency plans in place and analyzing the impact the different relationships Britain could have with the EU following its renegotiation.

Of those taking action, 10 percent said they were moving business outside of Britain.

"Our annual survey of FTSE 500 business leaders provides a unique insight into what the business world is thinking ahead of Brexit," Ipsos Mori Chief Executive Ben Page said.

"Unfortunately, it looks like business in this country is already feeling the pain of the economic upheaval of leaving the EU."

Britain's business leaders were some of the most vocal supporters of EU membership in the run up to the vote, arguing that access to a single market of 500 million people would enable them to grow their companies, and the economy, in the future.

However the survey found a more positive response when asking about the longer term impact on business, with nearly all confident they could adapt to Brexit.

"Thirty two percent of respondents said they think their business will start to feel the positive effects of leaving the EU in five years' time," Page said. "And the number of (business) captains that think it will remain a negative impact reduces to 45 percent when looking at long range forecast."

(Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Michael Holden)

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