December 16, 2019
Business

Calls to extend Article 50 grow as businesses fail to prepare for no deal

Calls are growing for the government and the European Union to agree an extension to Article 50, amid fears that a deal cannot be reached this autumn.

Two separate surveys – one by the Institute of Directors and one by Maritime UK – have both found that just half of businesses have made preparations for a no deal. Many firms, particularly smaller ones, have said they are not planning to.

Trade body Maritime UK, whose members facilitate 95 per cent of all UK trade, is urging both sides to consider extending Brexit talks if no agreement is reached by October, after a survey found just half of British exporters and importers had made preparations for a no deal.

Thats despite a third of business leaders polled saying they believe a no deal scenario is now likely.

Maritime UK also urged all parties to get behind the Prime Ministers Chequers deal, and for the EU “to show pragmatism”, in the hope a deal may still be reached.

Chairman David Dingle said: “A worrying number of business leaders from all sectors and parts of the country now believe a no deal is the most likely outcome.

“If we fail to agree a deal by October, it is in the interest of both the UK and EU to extend the Article 50 process.

“Failing to secure a deal will mean delays and disruption at ports like Dover, Holyhead and Portsmouth, but equally at EU ports including Zeebrugge, Calais and Dublin.

“We urge both sides to recognise an agreement is in everyones interest, and to be pragmatic so that a deal may be agreed quickly.

Yesterday City A.M. revealed that the EU has been floating the idea of an extension to Article 50, the Brexit process which is due to end on 29 March next year, only in the event of “significant change” – namely a general election.

This comes on the back of the papers report last month that member states and MEPs were increasingly discussing the need for additional time – albeit limited to just a few weeks or months.

IoDs director general Stephen Martin said: "As long as no-deal remains a possibility, it is essential that the government steps up to the plate and provides advice on preparing for such an outcome. We therefore urge them to speed up publication of the technical notices. This should also help make companies more alert to the need to prepare now for all eventualities.

"Any transition period must take account of the fact that many businesses feel they can only adjust once there is clarity about the direction of travel.

“Given full negotiations on the future relationship can only begin once we have left the EU, both sides should ensure there is a proper implementation period once a new agreement has been concluded. This is after all what would happen following the conclusion of any other trade deal.”

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