Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 22nd January 2019
British businesses and lobby groups representing them have raised major concerns about the extent to which enterprises are currently being left underprepared for a No Deal Brexit scenario.
An unnamed business leader has told the Times newspaper that small companies in particular are effectively being “hung out to dry” by relevant authorities including the government and HMRC.
The fear is that some very significant administrative and logistical issues will emerge and badly damage businesses across the country if the UK were to crash out of the EU at the end of March without a deal on the terms of departure.
Concerns have been raised specifically about a two-page briefing sent by HMRC to almost 150,000 UK companies explaining what they should expect to be the consequences of a No Deal Brexit.
Businesses were told they ought to buy customs software and get advice from specialists to prepare for a situation that would in all likelihood involve a very radical altering of the trading relationship between the UK and other European countries.
The feeling in some quarters though is that small businesses are not getting the reassurances or the guidance they need from the government or HMRC about the potential fallout of a No Deal UK exit from the EU.
“Small businesses are being hung out to dry,” the Times’ unnamed source is quoted as saying. “They have seen a poor letter from HMRC telling them to go buy some software, while millions of taxpayers’ money is spent on a questionable ferry company and a farcical traffic jam.”
Stephen Phipson from EEF, which represents manufacturers around the UK, is also quoted as saying: “In some areas there is no guidance at all and, where it does exist, some of it is riddled with holes, contradictions and a lack of detail.
“It’s crystal clear that this lack of preparedness means leaving without a deal would have disastrous consequences.”
Meanwhile, according to Sky News, the UK’s border agencies have estimated that a No Deal Brexit will result in an initial reduction of between 75 per cent and 87 per cent in the scale of freight trade conducted across the English Channel.