One in five small firms in the UK employ workers from the EU and 59% of these are worried about accessing people with the skills they need post-Brexit, according to research by the Federation of Small Businesses.
13% of small businesses with employees from the EU would consider moving their business abroad if there were additional barriers to recruiting EU workers.
Jonathan Wallace, Lib Dem candidate for Blaydon, said, "Small businesses are the backbone of the economy in the North East. Many of them rely on skilled workers from the EU.
“The report of the Federation of Small Businesses shows small firms are set to bear the brunt of Theresa May's divisive hard Brexit.
"The Conservatives’ reckless decision to leave the single market and not to guarantee the rights of EU workers has plunged small businesses into uncertainty, with many now even considering moving abroad.
"Meanwhile skilled EU workers who contribute to our economy, pay their taxes and help fund our public services are being made to feel unwelcome."
Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor Susan Kramer said, "The Conservatives have lost any right to call themselves the party of business. This election is a chance to change the direction of our country and protect the economy from a disastrous hard Brexit."