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Which PM Is The Favourite For SME Owners Over The Past 30 Years?

Small and medium-sized business owners across the UK have said that Margaret Thatcher was the best Prime Minister for small businesses over the past 30 years, according to new research that Informi carried out.  

We spoke to some 800 SME owners on a range of issues last month, including their feelings about current and past politics. Nearly two in five (38%) of respondents opted for Mrs Thatcher as the best recent Prime Minister for supporting small business, well ahead of her nearest challenger Tony Blair (24%).


38% of SME owners think Margaret Thatcher was the best PM for small business


While Cameron, Brown and Major were viewed less favourably, current Prime Minister Theresa May was named by only 4% of SME owners as the best for small business. This could, of course, reflect the fact that Mrs May has only been in office for less than a year, but equally may reflect her diminished image in the public eye, since losing the Conservative’s majority in the recent General Election.

It seems, therefore, that 30 years after her term in office finished and over four years since her death, Margaret Thatcher remains a controversial former Prime Minister who polarises opinions.

But one thing that many are agreed on is that under her leadership, the shrinking of the public sector helped many entrepreneurs to flourish with the number of private small businesses in the UK thriving. As a result, her legacy as a popular figure among entrepreneurs appears to be untarnished.

Brexit and the current Government

Following the recent one year anniversary of the Brexit referendum, Informi also asked SME owners whether they trust the new government to deliver a Brexit that works for their business.


34% of SME owners don't trust the current government to deliver a Brexit that delivers for their business


Many business owners appear pessimistic on this front. Our findings show:

  • a third (34%) say they don’t trust the government to deliver a good Brexit for their business
  • a lower figure (29%) said they do trust the government to get a good outcome
  • the majority of respondents (37%) remain unsure.

Some of the small business owners we spoke to shared their fears and hopes for Brexit. One told us: “More uncertainty has stopped our business trying to expand. We have many customers in Europe and we don’t know how that will affect our relationship with them.”

However, another SME owner cannot wait to leave Europe, telling us: “I voted to leave, and I mean leave, because I don’t want to be ruled by fat cats in the EU who were not elected by me. Many countries will want to do business with us, and I cannot see large companies wanting to end trade just because we are independent from them.”

Now that the Brexit negotiations have begun, we’re in a limbo process with everyone waiting to see how the talks will proceed and what terms will be hammered out. It’s essential for the British economy that a favourable deal is made between the UK and the European Union; a deal which allows small businesses to thrive and which causes as little disruption to businesses as possible.

Looking at our research, it seems that many business owners are not confident of this happening, with many currently lacking trust in the Government’s ability to get a good deal.


Opinium Research conducted an online survey with 800 owners of UK SMEs between Monday 12 and Friday 16 June 2017. 47 per cent of respondents told the survey they voted to Leave the EU, while 47 per cent voted to Remain in the EU, in the referendum held on Thursday 23 June 2016. Seven per cent did not vote.

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