Businesses told to prepare for no deal Brexit

Financial secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride, said this morning (21 December) that UK businesses trading with the European Union (EU) should be putting measures in place to prepare for a no deal Brexit.

In an interview with the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Stride said that the scenario of no deal is “unlikely”, but suggested there is a “call to action now” for businesses to prepare regardless.

His comments came ahead of the government issuing further advice to UK businesses over the implications of no-deal Brexit, later on Friday.

"The time is now, there is a call to action now,” he told the BBC.

"Those who are importing or exporting into and out of the EU 27, in the unlikely event that there is a no deal at the end of March, will need to take certain steps. They need to do that now."

Advice from Stride, in the interview, included "get a customs agent on board" or "look at software they can use to make sure (of) their import and export declarations".

Many retailers have amended their supply chain plans as the UK’s withdrawal from the EU at the end of March moves ever closer. Moves have been made to bring forward deliveries of goods from Europe or simply hold more stock in the coming months, as a precautionary measure against any potential fallout or friction between borders in the immediate aftermath of Brexit.

Majestic Wine said that it will import an additional £5-8 million of stock to mitigate any possible problems with deliveries related to the UK’s departure, while fashion retailer Joules is stocking up already on next year’s spring and summer ranges.

Joules, which has been one of the UK retail success stories in 2018, has also rented an EU warehouse in preparation for a no-deal Brexit.

Earlier this week, a joint statement from businesses groups British Chambers of Commerce, Confederation of British Industry, EEF, Federation of Small Businesses, and Institute of Directors criticised a “lack of progress in Westminster” around Brexit.

“With just 100 days to go, the suggestion that ‘no-deal’ can be ‘managed’ is not a credible proposition,” the statement read.

“Businesses would face massive new customs costs and tariffs. Disruption at ports could destroy carefully built supply chains. From broadcasters, to insurance brokers, to our financial services – the UK’s world-leading services sector will be needlessly disadvantaged, and many professional qualifications will be unrecognised across the EU.”