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Business chiefs warn Boris Johnson UK not ready for no-deal Brexit

Business chiefs warn Boris Johnson UK not ready for no-deal Brexit
3 min read

Britain is still "underprepared" for a no-deal Brexit in October, a major business lobby group has warned Boris Johnson.


In a new report, the CBI - which represents 190,000 UK businesses - said firms had been undermined by unclear advice, cost and timelines on what leaving the EU without a deal would mean.

And they make clear that the European Union itself is also not ready for a no-deal outcome.

The warnings came as it was reported that the Government is planning a £100m no-deal advertising blitz over the next three months, as Mr Johnson ordered a shake-up of Whitehall to ready the UK to leave without an agreement on 31 October.

In its new report, the CBI says 24 out of 27 areas of the UK economy will face disruption if the country leaves the EU without a deal, and it calls on ministers to "step up" preparations for a hard exit.

The CBI calls on the Government to "immediately" put the civil service "back onto a no-deal footing" and review all Brexit preparedness advice drawn up for the previous exit date of March 2019.

The Government should meanwhile launch a "targeted" communications campaign and adopt a "refreshed, transparent" approach to its planning, the CBI says.

Ministers are also urged to consider shortening the summer Parliamentary recess and curtailing party conferences to allow enough time to pass vital no-deal Brexit legislation.

Meanwhile the EU is told to "come to the table and commit" to matching the "sensible" planning already carried out by the UK.

'DAMAGE'

The CBI's deputy-director general Josh Hardie said: "Businesses are desperate to move beyond Brexit. They have huge belief in the UK and getting a deal will open many doors that have been closed by uncertainty. 

"There is a fresh opportunity to show a new spirit of pragmatism and flexibility. Both sides are underprepared, so it’s in all our interests. It cannot be beyond the wit of the continent’s greatest negotiators to find a way through and agree a deal.

"But until this becomes a reality, all must prepare to leave without one. It’s time to review outdated technical notices; launch an ambitious communications campaign for every firm in the country and rigorously test all Government plans and IT systems."

While the CBI is urging businesses and government to do all they can to prepare for a no-ldea, Mr Hardie warned that neither side of the negotiations could completely "mitigate" the disruption of Britain leaving without a deal.

"We can reduce but not remove the damage of no-deal," he said.

"It’s not just about queues at ports; the invisible impact of severing services trade overnight would harm firms across the country."

The CBI's warning came as The Telegraph reported that Mr Johnson is planning to channel £100m into a no-deal spending advertising blitz over the next three months.

The push could include a leaflet on no-deal preparations being sent to every home in the country.

According to the paper, Chancellor Sajid Javid will unveil wider plans for an extra £1bn in no-deal prepartion spending later this week.

Mr Johnson has meanwhile set up a new "exit strategy committee" in Whitehall to lead on Brexit planning, The Times reports, with Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove heading up a new "operations committee" that will meet daily and lead on no-deal work.

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