No-deal Brexit: UK government tells firms to prepare with time 'running out'

·Finance and policy reporter
·2 min read
Freight lorries board a ferry at the Port of Dover bound for France, in Dover on the south coast of England on July 12, 2020. - Britain on Sunday pledged £705 million ($890 million, 788 million euros) to prepare its borders for cutting ties with the European Union on December 31, amid concern within government that it is not ready. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Firms are being urged to prepare for a no-deal Brexit. Photo: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images

The UK government has launched a new campaign urging companies to prepare for a no-deal Brexit at the end of the year.

The “time is running out” public information campaign will include letters to 200,000 firms who trade with the EU, setting out new customs and tax rules and “how to deal with them.”

“Make no mistake, there are changes coming in just 75 days and time is running out for businesses to act,” said minister Michael Gove in a government press release detailing some of what firms needed to do on Monday.

“At the end of this year we are leaving the EU Single Market and Customs Union and this means there are both new challenges and new opportunities for businesses.”

Watch: What to expect in a no-deal Brexit?

Industry surveys suggest many firms are not prepared for Brexit disruption, with business chiefs blaming uncertainty over future trade terms and firms’ more immediate challenges during the pandemic.

“More businesses will undoubtedly step up preparations for change over the coming weeks, but many are still facing unanswered Brexit questions that have a big impact on their day to day operations,” said Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce.

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“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.”

It comes after more than 70 trade associations and professional bodies urged UK and EU politicians over the weekend to secure a deal through “compromise and tenacity.”

“With each day that passes, business resilience is chipped away. A swift deal is the single most effective way to support recovery in communities across Europe,” read a joint statement from the business leaders on Sunday.

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“After four years of debate, there must be a resolution.”

A Downing Street spokesperson said last week talks over a trade deal were “over,” and prime minister Boris Johnson told the public to prepare for leaving without agreement. But Gove, chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said on Sunday the door was “ajar” for talks to resume.

The government is also reported to be prepared to rewrite controversial Brexit legislation that would breach international law, in the hope of boosting the chance of a breakthrough in negotiations, lifting sterling on Monday.

Johnson and Gove were due to hold a call with business leaders on Monday.