With a no-deal Brexit looking more likely with each passing month, businesses in the UK should be developing contingency plans in case Britain and the European Union (EU) do not reach an agreement.
However, figures from a survey carried out by the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) show that not only do almost two-thirds of British small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) not have any sort of plan in place, but they are also suffering from “Brexit fatigue.”
These businesses appear to have tuned out of the back-and-forth dialogue stemming from each political side trying to get its angle heard in the media.
As Prime Minister Theresa May continues to find herself unable to deliver any sort of Brexit plan due to pushback within her own party, opposition parties and Europe, this is a testing time for many in the political sphere to get a version of Brexit that suits their interests.
Based on the BCC survey, it seems that many British businesses are not considering the issue a positive matter and are struggling to keep up with several dramatic turns of events.
Director General of the BCC Adam Marshall said that these businesses have yet to implement any Brexit contingency plans because they are still “awaiting more clarity.” He added that plenty “are suffering from Brexit fatigue and have switched off from the process because they don’t believe they will be affected.”
Labeling the number of businesses still unprepared as “too many,” Marshall also highlighted their lack of “capacity to scenario plan” as another major issue in convincing British SMEs to have a plan in place should the supply chains that they rely on suddenly become hit by trade barriers.
The BCC survey also showed that a significant proportion of these companies would have to slash investment in the event of a no-deal Brexit, as they rely on either imports to or exports from Europe.
More worryingly, 18% of respondents said that this would impact their ability to recruit and could result in job losses, while a fifth said that they would either need to move their entire business or their key operations into the EU. This could see the UK suffer in the job market, lose key business and face greater uncertainty with its already unstable currency.
The BCC is now calling for talks with the UK government in the wake of these findings. The government is preparing to launch a program designed to help companies figure out how best to deal with Brexit and draw up scenarios for action based on the trade deal outcome.
Meanwhile, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has already told the media that he believes that his country is more prepared for Brexit than the UK. The Republic of Ireland has launched a campaign across its country to better explain to businesses how import and export proceedings could change.
Exporting to the EU should become a particularly difficult process for those with no prior knowledge of other trading regulations, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.
This could see each consignment sent to the EU requiring travelers to fill in 54 different boxes to effectively declare customs, while each business will now need to know the rules around origin definitions and trade tariff proceedings.