Final warning: Businesses told time ‘running out‘ to get ready for Brexit

18 October 2020, 22:33 | Updated: 18 October 2020, 22:55

Businesses are being told "time is running out" for them to prepare for a no deal Brexit
Businesses are being told "time is running out" for them to prepare for a no deal Brexit. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Businesses have been told "time is running out" to prepare for no deal Brexit, just 75 days before the UK officially leaves the EU.

The Government currently has until the 31 December deadline to come to a consensus with the bloc.

But recent negotiations have stalled, sparking fears Boris Johnson is not going to strike an agreement with the EU before the end of the transition period.

On Friday, the Prime Minister issued his strongest warning yet that the EU was unwilling to agree a deal with the UK, accusing European leaders of having "abandoned the idea of a free trade deal".

Read more: Boris Johnson says UK should 'get ready' for no deal Brexit

Read more: MPs vote to 'take back control of UK waters' as Fisheries Bill clears Commons

It appeared that Mr Johnson had shelved plans for further negotiations altogether, after the UK's Brexit chief negotiator Lord Frost last week told his EU counterpart Michel Barnier not to come to London for planned talks without a major change in position from EU leaders.

However, Mr Barnier said he was expecting a call from his Downing Street on Monday.

The Government currently has just 75 days to come to a consensus with the bloc before the 31 December deadline ahead of the UK officially pulling out
The Government currently has just 75 days to come to a consensus with the bloc before the 31 December deadline ahead of the UK officially pulling out. Picture: PA

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said the door was "ajar" for talks to continue but the UK is calling for a fundamental change of direction from the bloc for negotiations to resume.

Mr Gove will speak to his opposite number on the UK-EU joint committee, Maros Sefcovic, in London on Monday.

British businesses are growing increasingly concerned a trade deal will not be in place when the transition period ends meaning they will be hammered by high tariffs.

Read more: UK tells EU there is 'no basis for negotiations' and halts further trade talks

The Prime Minister and Mr Gove will call businesses with large supply chains and representative organisations on Tuesday, as the Government launches an advertising drive to warn "time is running out".

Regardless of whether there is a deal or not, firms will no longer be operating within the single market and will need to change they way they operate.

Mr Gove said: "Make no mistake, there are changes coming in just 75 days and time is running out for businesses to act."

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said the door was "ajar" for talks to continue but the UK is calling for a fundamental change of direction from the bloc for negotiations to resume
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said the door was "ajar" for talks to continue but the UK is calling for a fundamental change of direction from the bloc for negotiations to resume. Picture: PA

HMRC will also write to 200,000 firms who trade with the EU to set out new customs and tax rules.

CBI deputy director general Josh Hardie said: "Businesses are doing all they can to prepare for Brexit.

"But firms face a hat-trick of unprecedented challenges: rebuilding from the first wave of Covid-19, dealing with the resurgence of the virus and uncertainty over the UK's trading relationship with the EU.

"With compromise and tenacity, a deal can be done. Businesses call on leaders on both sides to find a route through."

British Chambers of Commerce director general Adam Marshall said: "Facing the triple threat of a resurgent coronavirus, tightening restrictions and a disorderly end to the transition period, it is little wonder businesses are struggling to prepare.

"Many firms will be tired of posturing, cliff edges and deadlines, while others are still grappling with fundamental challenges as a result of the pandemic.

"A UK-EU deal is still both possible and critical. Much may change for business at year end, but a deal would give firms more clarity so that they can plan and adjust.

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