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100 days to go - business leaders "horrified" at drift to no deal Brexit

No Deal
Carolyn Fairbairn

The UK's five leading business groups, representing hundreds of thousands of businesses across the United Kingdom employing millions of people, today called on politicians to prevent a disorderly 'no-deal' Brexit on 29th March.

The CBI, British Chambers of Commerce, EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, Federation of Small Businesses and Institute of Directors expressed their collective dismay at the creeping prospect of no deal.

In a joint statement, leaders of the five groups, including the CBI's director general Carolyn Fairbairn (pictured), said, "Businesses have been watching in horror as politicians have focused on factional disputes rather than practical steps that business needs to move forward. The 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. 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. 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. UK and EU nationals working abroad will be left in deep uncertainty about their future. 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.

"This is not where we should be.

"The responsibility to find a way forward now rests directly with 650 MPs in Parliament. Nobody wants to prolong the uncertainty, but everyone must remember that businesses and communities need time to adapt to future changes. As the UK's leading business groups, we are asking MPs from all parties to return to their constituencies over Christmas and talk to their local business communities. We hope that they will listen and remember that when they return to Parliament, the future course of our economy will be in their hands."

The business leaders' statement coincided with Theresa May's government committing a further £2 billion to no deal preparations, and confirming that 3,500 troops were being put on no deal standby.

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