Almost three quarters of IT contractors would favour a soft Brexit over its tougher alternative according to new research released this week.

According to ClearSky Accounting, the majority of contractors would prefer a continued single market for the UK once it leaves the European Union, as well as freedom of movement in some degree.

The alternative – generally referred to as a ‘hard Brexit’ – would see the UK leave the single market and make movement between the UK and Europe significantly tougher it is predicted.

Speaking to Shout 99, Derek Kelly of ClearSky Accounting said that the research his company conducted indicates the potential ramifications of Brexit are a significant cause of concern for the IT contractor community.

“IT contractors are often the first to feel the pain in the event of a downturn as it is normally discretionary IT spend that is cut,” Kelly explained. “These tend to be the projects that use a high proportion of IT contractors. The fear is that the so-called cliff edge of a hard Brexit could undermine business investment, which would hit discretionary IT spend. IT contractors are highly mobile and many have worked in the EU. It is possible that, in the event of a soft Brexit, British IT contractors would retain the opportunity to work in Europe much as they do now. On the other hand, a hard Brexit would presumably limit opportunities for EU nationals to work in the UK, which could create more opportunities for British contractors at home.”

The research also indicated contractors are seeing a distinct lack of support from their government, and are increasingly feeling like the victims of tax raids.

“There is a perception that they have an unfair tax advantage but they do not receive workplace pensions, paid holidays or sick pay,” Kelly said. “They also face the risk of spending some time out of work between contracts.”

There is also a growing feeling that another general election will afford IT contractors the chance to vote for parties they feel will support a softer Brexit according to the research.

Kelly said: “With the parties favouring a soft Brexit having gained ground during the election, it is likely that a large proportion of the IT contractors preferring a soft Brexit see a second election this year as an opportunity to decisively kill off a hard Brexit.”