Poll: UK business struggling with Brexit preparedness

A worker arrives at his office in the Canary Wharf business district in London February 26, 2014. — Reuters pic
A worker arrives at his office in the Canary Wharf business district in London February 26, 2014. — Reuters pic

LONDON, July 13 — Only a quarter of UK businesses are “fully ready” for the end of the Brexit transition period, with some blaming the coronavirus pandemic for delays in their preparations, a survey revealed today.

“With so much going on, many directors feel that preparing for Brexit proper is like trying to hit a moving target,” said Jonathan Geldart, director general of the Institute of Directors (IoD) which carried out the survey. 

“Jumping immediately into whatever comes next would be a nightmare for many businesses.”

Britain ended its EU membership on January 31 but agreed a transition period until the end of 2020 while it tries to negotiate a new trade deal with Brussels.

The talks are moving slowly, sparking alarm among businesses that almost half a century of economic integration with the EU will end abruptly in a few months’ time.

“Only a quarter of business leaders say their organisations are fully ready for the end of the Brexit transition period,” the IoD said.

Of 978 company directors polled by the Institute in late June, almost half said they were unable to prepare, “with one in seven distracted by coronavirus”.

Financial-sector businesses were most likely to be ready while manufacturers in particular had more to do, according to the IoD.

“Directors in services felt especially unable to prepare at present, whether due to pressures of the pandemic or because they needed more clarity on changes,” it added.

Britain yesterday pledged £705 million (RM3.7 billion) to prepare its borders for cutting ties with the European Union on December 31.

“Unilateral actions like staggering import controls would be a welcome step from government, but are by no means enough,” Geldart said.

“We need to mitigate disruption across many different sectors on both sides. 

“A phased implementation is in everyone’s interests, and direct financial support for smaller firms would be a huge boost at a difficult time,” he added. — AFP

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