Countdown to Brexit: When will the unknown unknowns be known?

Posted by Paul Cherpeau

Chief Executive

Fri 02nd, Feb

The past week has been another politically shambolic period which has, once again, accentuated the uncertainties around Brexit. Now just 13 months away, we appear once more to have little understanding or appreciation about how the practicalities for business will be delivered.

The latest results from the British Chambers of Commerce economic survey demonstrated increased sluggishness within the economy and that two-thirds of companies are not preparing for Brexit as what is largely unknown, cannot be fully prepared for. The growth projections for 2018-19 are not particularly encouraging and there are considerable concerns that the collapse of Carillion and the profit warning at Capita, are indications of problematic trading conditions.

Failure to provide greater certainty about the specifics of Brexit is undoubtedly impeding the ability for most businesses to prepare for what is to come. The British Chambers are advocating the commencement of some basic planning – a ‘Brexit audit’, giving insight into how much of the workforce is from the EU; looking at contracts with EU companies and how they would pan out in a post-Brexit economy; analysing your supply chain and whether that will change once the UK leaves the EU and looking at the possible effects on VAT.

There is a certain inevitability that an end game will be reached soon and guidance provided based upon a clear position of post-Brexit conditions. The message remains to keep calm, carry on trading and identify some basic preparatory work for March 2019. We continue to champion the need for at least two years transitional period with minimal adjustment costs for business and expect that clarity is provided imminently. If it’s not, then the unknown unknowns of Brexit will be far more damaging than the actual divorce.

Keep updated with the Chamber’s programme of Brexit preparation workshops and meetings this year and look out for ‘Business Voice’, our new e-newsletter launching this month with advice, guidance, consultations and other content for members to stay informed. 

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