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Small businesses ‘watching in horror’ as risk of no-deal Brexit rises

KNUTSFORD, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 17: In this photo illustration, the European Union and the Union flag sit together on bunting on March 17, 2016 in Knutsford, United Kingdom. The United Kingdom will hold a referendum on June 23, 2016 to decide whether or not to remain a member of the European Union (EU), an economic and political partnership involving 28 European countries which allows members to trade together in a single market and free movement across its borders for citizens. (Photo by illustration by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

With less than 100 days to go until the UK leaves the EU, leading business groups are urging politicians to stop “factional disputes” which they claim are making a “disorderly” no-deal Brexit more likely.

The UK’s five leading business groups, including the Federation of Small Businesses, the EEF and the British Chambers of Commerce, said that companies have been “watching in horror” as politicians have “focused on factional disputes rather than practical steps that business needs to move forward”.

A joint statement from a number of business groups said that a “lack of progress” in Westminster means that the risk of a no-deal Brexit is rising.

“Businesses of all sizes are reaching the point of no return, with many now putting in place contingency plans that are a significant drain of time and money,” the statement read.

“Firms are pausing or diverting investment that should be boosting productivity, innovation, jobs and pay into stockpiling goods or materials, diverting cross border trade and moving offices, factories and therefore jobs and tax revenues out of the UK.

“While many companies are actively preparing for a ‘no deal’ scenario, there are also hundreds of thousands who have yet to start – and cannot be expected to be ready in such a short space of time.

“All this activity stems from the growing risk of leaving the EU on 29th March without a deal. With just 100 days to go, the suggestion that ‘no-deal’ can be ‘managed’ is not a credible proposition.”

The groups claim that businesses would face “massive” new customs costs and tariffs and that disruption at ports could “destroy carefully built supply chains”.

The statement continued: “As a result of the lack of progress, the government is understandably now in a place where it must step up no-deal planning, but it is clear there is simply not enough time to prevent severe dislocation and disruption in just 100 days.”


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