UK businesses are the most pessimistic out of seven major EU countries about how their country’s economic outlook over the next six months.
Nearly two thirds (63pc) of UK businesses expect the economy will worsen over the coming half year, compared with just 6pc in Norway, according to accountancy giant BDO.
Conversely, only one in 10 business leaders expect the economy will improve in the next six months.
Almost a fifth (17pc) of UK businesses expect their own company performance to worsen, contributing to the general feeling of dread across Europe.
The majority of business leaders in Norway, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Denmark, Spain and the UK expect the European economic outlook to worsen over the next six months.
And 42pc of European businesses believe that Brexit will be detrimental to their own businesses, whether they’re based in the UK or not.
Half of EU businesses leaders expect trade with the UK to decline post Brexit, compared with 40pc of UK businesses expecting less trade with the EU.
Spain anticipates the biggest impact on UK trade post Brexit (81pc), followed by Denmark (67pc) and Italy (53pc). Spain is the EU’s sixth largest exporter of goods to the UK and Italy, the eighth.
Rising business administrations
BDO’s gloomy findings are underlined by the latest figures from the government Insolvency Service, which shows UK businesses going into administration jumped by 20pc between July and September, the highest level for more than five years.
The number of businesses entering administration in the third quarter rose from 403 to 484.
And UK businesses’ fears about Brexit uncertainty are echoed by the latest consumer confidence index from market researcher GfK, which says consumer confidence in the economy is back to its joint-lowest in six years.
The GfK consumer confidence index fell to minus 14 in October, down from minus 12 in September, and was the joint lowest reading since July 2013.
However, the survey closed days before Boris Johnson announced his new Brexit deal, which was later approved by Parliament and the threat of No Deal was taken off the table after another Brexit extension.