Businesses ‘hung out to dry’ without no-deal Brexit answers

The BCC is asking the government how business travel will be affected in a no-deal Brexit
London News Pictures/REX/Shutterstock

With 44 days to go until the UK leaves the EU, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has published a list of 20 “critical” questions that remain unanswered in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The list demands answers to questions such as whether and how companies will be able to move skilled workers between the UK and the EU after Brexit day on 29 March, what trade agreements will be in place and what tariffs companies will need to pay when importing goods.

The BCC says businesses do not want a “messy and disorderly exit, but with a ‘no-deal’ scenario still possible, firms need clear and precise answers to the many questions this would pose for their business.”

The 20 questions include:

  • Will staff spending longer than 90 out of 180 days in the EU be subject to further administration, costs or visas?
  • Will my business be able to move skilled staff members between the UK and the EU and if so, under what conditions?
  • Will businesses still be able to fly people and/or goods between the UK and the EU after Brexit day – or could travel be disrupted?
  • And, will my business continue to be able to hold and transfer data and personal information without any interruptions after 29 March 2019?

Adam Marshall, director general of the BCC, said: “UK firms could face the biggest change to their terms of trade in over a generation, without the information and clarity they need to navigate their forward course.

“There is a very real risk that a lack of clear, actionable information from government will leave firms, their people and their communities hung out to dry.

“Even those companies trying their hardest to get ready are still in the dark on important matters from contracts through to customs. Many others, who took the decision to wait for the political process to conclude before acting, would face sudden and costly adjustments if a deal is not reached.”

The business lobby, which represents 75,000 firms employing around six million people, said that the absence of clarity had already stifled investment and growth, and is resulting in unnecessary costs, an inability to plan and, increasingly, the loss of business as customers look elsewhere.

It described government planning for no deal as “sluggish and patchy” adding that, while government agencies are urging business to prepare for all scenarios, they are failing to provide companies with the information needed to do so.

“It is little wonder that many firms have been holding back on investment, stockpiling, and even opening offices and moving operations and jobs elsewhere,” added Marshall.

“The imperative remains to avoid a messy and disorderly exit on 29 March, but businesses need answers they can base decisions on, no matter the outcome. The lack of clear, precise answers is now causing real damage to many businesses, and to the wider economy.”

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