Thursday 16 August 2018

'Information void' on Brexit has left UK firms 'in dark'

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Gareth Morgan

Gareth Morgan

British firms have been left in the dark over planning for Brexit amid an "information void", according to a leading UK business group.

The Institute of Directors (IoD) called on the UK government to speed up guidance on what companies should expect if no deal is reached on leaving the EU.

A survey of 800 business leaders showed that less than a third had made any Brexit contingency planning.

Many said they were waiting for clarity about the future relationship with the EU.

It comes at the end of a torrid week when a series of influential groups in the British business world have questioned the Brexit strategy.

Stephen Martin, director general of the IoD, said: "Many companies are still unprepared for Brexit, and it's hard to blame them. When it comes to knowing what to plan for and when, firms have been left in the dark."

A food industry boss this week called for a meeting with the government as he warned that Brexit is becoming "the stuff of nightmares".

UK Food and Drink Federation (FDF) chief executive Ian Wright urged ministers to explain the implications of a no-deal Brexit to businesses in the industry.

Jim Winship, director of the British Sandwich and Food to Go Association, told BBC's 'Newsnight' on Monday: "We live in a just-in-time world. We don't stockpile ingredients."

Further concerns emerged on Tuesday when local government officials in Dover, across the Channel from France, released an assessment of how a no-deal Brexit would affect the area around Europe's busiest ferry port. The assessment, named Operation Brock, suggests there would be a continuous backlog of trucks waiting to cross the English Channel, creating a gridlock as far as 65km inland.

In the British health service, NHS officials have highlighted the possibility of staff shortages, that costs "may go up" and that the quality and pricing of food could be affected.

Specialist equipment or parts sourced from the EU could potentially be "less accessible", a report warned.

The Bank of England raised its main interest rate yesterday for only the second time since the 2008 financial crisis as it weighed a strong jobs market and high inflation against growing concerns about Brexit.

The London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) has also kick-started its preparations for a hard Brexit, warning that the terms of the UK's exit are still "unclear".

The company has cautioned that a provisional agreement between negotiators in the UK and Brussels is yet to be approved by parliaments on both sides of the Channel, and could fall apart.

Irish Independent

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