Danny McCance 23 Apr 2019 10:34am

UK boards at risk of post-Brexit “brain drain"

Of the more than 628,000 board-level UK directors identifiable by nationality, over 6% are citizens of other EU countries

This means the UK could risk losing 41,510 senior business directors in the wake of the UK leaving the EU, says the UK’s fifth-largest firm BDO.

The proportion of directors from other EU countries was highest in the UK’s largest businesses (annual turnover between £300m and £1bn) with 8% (1,250) of the 15,000 being citizens of other EU nations – 0.2% of all UK directors.

Meanwhile 7% (10,400) of directors at mid-size businesses (annual turnover between £10m and £300m) are citizens of other EU countries – 1.6% of the UK total.

Stuart Lisle, senior tax partner at BDO, pointed to the enormous contribution made by these individuals to the economy.

“The fact that so many businesses rely on EU leaders shows the risks to UK economic growth, tax receipts and employment if they are disincentivised from making investments here,” Lisle said.

He suggested that the government encourage them to set up and lead businesses in the UK, which may require “actively courting ” these individuals like other EU countries.

Every EU country is represented at board level in the UK.

Ireland provided the most directors, 9,490 (1.4% of all directors in the UK ) despite being only the 19th largest of the 27 EU countries.

France provided the second-most with 5,610, while Germany came third with 3,600 despite being the largest EU country by population.

At the other end of the spectrum Croatia and Slovenia were least well represented at board-level in the UK with only 40 UK directors having citizenship from either country.