CBI & FSB join BRC in warning over no-deal Brexit

CBI & FSB join BRC in warning on impact of no-deal Brexit
After more than three years since the Brexit referendum, it remains unclear how, when or even whether the country will leave on the October 31 deadline.
// FSB: Almost 40% of small UK businesses – which includes retailers – fear no-deal Brexit hit
// CBI: Businesses “cannot be protected” from the worst impacts of a no-deal Brexit
// Comments follows BRC rejecting Michael Gove’s claims that retail is “ready” for a no-deal Brexit scenario

The Federation of Small Businesses and the Confederation of British Industry are the latest lobby groups to express concerns over how a no-deal Brexit could impact UK retail.

An FSB survey published last Friday showed that 39 per cent of small businesses – many of which are retailers – thought a no-deal Brexit would have a negative impact.

This compares to 34 per cent who thought it would have no impact and 11 per cent a positive impact.

The remainder of survey participants said they did not know.


The FSB said that most of those firms that thought a no-deal Brexit would harm their business said they were unable to plan ahead for it.

“As the risk of a chaotic no-deal Brexit on October 31 remains alive and kicking, it is worrying that many small firms have either not prepared or are finding that they can’t prepare,” FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said.

“Ongoing uncertainty is to blame for preparations hitting the skids with the picture still not clear as to how the UK will leave the EU on October 31.”

The average cost of small businesses’ preparations for a no-deal Brexit stood at around £2000 pounds, rising to £3000 pounds for companies that import and export, according to the FSB’s survey.

Meanwhile, the CBI said businesses “cannot be protected” from the worst impacts of a no-deal Brexit.

CBI deputy director general Josh Hardie hit out at the “political brinkmanship” in Westminster as Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Conservative party gathered for a conference on Sunday.

Hardie’s comments came after Michael Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster – which means he is the MP responsible for ensuring the UK is ready to leave the EU on October 31, with or without a deal – told House of Commons last week that retail was one the sectors ready for a no-deal Brexit.

Gove’s remark was criticised by the BRC, which said: “It is impossible to completely mitigate the significant disruption which would be caused by no deal.”

Meanwhile, Hardie told the PA news agency: “Businesses are beyond disillusioned with the political brinkmanship and the looming risk of no deal.

“There can be no room for complacency in no deal planning – which goes for government and business alike.

“But while firms can be prepared, they cannot be protected against the worst effects a no deal exit would bring.

“Preparations are already having an effect.

“Stockpiling, relocating operations and supply chains out of the UK are draining funds which could be used for increasing wages and investment.”

Hardie also rejected the claims made by some Brexiteers that a no-deal exit would give certainty to businesses.

“The only certainty no deal brings is years of fraught negotiations with the EU, and neglect of the domestic policy agenda,” he said.

“We must leave with a deal that protects jobs and livelihoods – or get mired in a swamp where hundreds of smaller deals will be needed and negotiations begin from scratch.

“We forget about the UK economy at our peril.”

After more than three years since the Brexit referendum, it remains unclear how, when or even whether the country will leave on the October 31 deadline.

A Bank of England report published last month showed three quarters of businesses thought they were “as ready as they can be” for a no-deal Brexit, with just under a fifth “fully ready”.

A government spokesman said: “We will be leaving the EU on 31 October, and it is our preference to do so with a new deal that is in the interests of both our businesses and citizens.

“We have stepped up preparations across all sectors, making £108 million available to support businesses to ensure they are ready for Brexit and can take advantage of the opportunities of our future outside of the EU.”

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