The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has called on the government to “intensify” EU negotiations after it found that small businesses would be hardest hit in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
According to research carried out by the FSB, a no-deal Brexit – in which the UK would have to trade with the EU under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules – would lead to 11 per cent of small businesses to cease exporting to the EU altogether.
The increased customs checks that would come into force under the WTO trade rules would drive up prices and a further 59 per cent of small businesses have predicted would hit their business.
In light of its findings and continued lack of meaningful progress in negotiations, FSB policy chairman Martin McTague urged the government to “deliver a pro-business Brexit”.
“Eight months is all we have left on the Brexit clock and time is running out to seal a deal that will avoid a disorderly ‘no deal’ exit,” he said.
“Smaller businesses, and those businesses they rely upon, simply don’t have enough time to prepare for a cliff edge Brexit.
“What will happen to the settled status scheme if there is no deal? How will a small deli survive if they are faced with large tariff increases on food imported from the EU?
“What support will be available for a self-employed consultant if they lose the right to move freely between the UK and EU?
“The government must think carefully about the very real consequences of a disorderly Brexit and do everything in its power to avoid this scenario. However, responsible ‘no deal’ Brexit planning is essential.
“It is vital that government engages with small businesses to ensure that these preparations will work and are communicated effectively.”