Written by: Keith Tully
Preparations for Brexit have gone backwards for a significant number of companies across the country, according to Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).
Speaking to Sky TV’s ‘Ian King Live’ programme, Dame Carolyn explained that while Brexit remains a key issue for UK businesses it has been comprehensively overshadowed over the course of 2020 by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Companies are still aiming to do “as much as they can” in preparation for Brexit but close to half of them have “gone backwards in their preparations,” she said.
“Brexit was knocked off the front page of every board agenda in the country, so we can’t expect businesses to be fully prepared and I think frankly the same is true of government,” she said.
The UK is currently in a phase of transitioning out of the European Union and is due to officially leave at the end of 2020.
However, the terms on which Britain leaves the EU are yet to be fully agreed between the two relevant parties involved in negotiations between politicians and diplomats in London and Brussels.
For businesses, the lack of a complete agreement makes it more difficult to plan for new trading dynamics and different tax-related responsibilities.
There are also some concerns that the UK might yet leave the EU at the end of the year without having agreed a deal on the terms of its departure.
Dame Carolyn has insisted that there is a “massive responsibility” on negotiators on both sides of the Channel to strike a deal and to avoid a No Deal Brexit situation which the CBI has long been warning could be hugely damaging for businesses across the country.
Despite the uncertainty around how exactly the UK will leave the EU at the end of the year, the government and HMRC have been warning companies to ready themselves for incoming rule changes.
HMRC is writing to over 200,000 businesses that trade with the EU to let them know about changes to rules around customs and taxation.
Meanwhile, Michael Gove, chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, told Sky News recently: “Make no mistake, there are changes coming in just 75 days and time is running out for businesses to act.”
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