A joint statement from five leading business groups says a 'managed' no-deal Brexit is 'not a credible proposition' and would impose major new costs on British businesses.
They say that the uncertainty caused by Brexit is causing firms to put in place contingency plans that are a ‘significant drain of time and money’ which are causing many to halt or divert investment.
Rather than investing money to boost their productivity and innovation, many businesses are stockpiling goods or materials, diverting cross-border trade and moving offices, factories and jobs out of the UK.
The joint statement from leading figures in the CBI, EEF, British Chambers of Commerce, Institute of Directors, and Federation of Small Businesses warns against a so-called ‘managed’ no-deal Brexit, saying it is ‘not a credible proposition. Businesses would face massive new costs and tariffs.’
The five business groups, which represent hundreds of thousands of UK firms, said that because of a lack of progress, the government “is understandably now in a place where it must step up no-deal planning.” But it warns that however much the government are preparing for a no-deal Brexit, ‘there is simply not enough time to prevent severe dislocation and disruption in just 100 days. This is not where we should be.’
The government have already ramped up their plans for a no-deal Brexit. Letters have been sent to 140,000 businesses urging them to trigger their no-deal contingency plans.
Some £2bn has also been distributed to government departments to help them prepare for the no-deal scenario. It includes £480m to the Home Office for extra border staff and £410m to Defra to ensure uninterrupted trade in essential products such as chemicals, and food products.
Today, the government will issue 100-page updated Revenue and Customs information packs setting out what changes could be needed at the border. HMRC has already received £375m to employ 3,000 extra staff to handle increases in customs activities and new technology at the borders.
The joint statement says the responsibility for stopping a no-deal Brexit lies with MPs. It calls on them to return to their constituencies over the Christmas period and speak with their local business communities.
It concludes by saying: “We hope that they will listen and remember that when they return to Parliament, the future course of our economy will be in their hands.”
Reporting by Harry Wise