CBI and IOD warn that extended Brexit deadline is being wasted

Fri 14 Jun 2019
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

brexit uncertainty

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the Institute of Directors (IOD) have warned leadership candidates in the Conservative Party that a ‘no-deal’ Brexit should not be used as a negotiating tool. Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, Director General of the CBI, told Bloomberg:

“I’ve never felt it was a particularly credible negotiating threat because it is a bit like saying ‘If you don’t do what I want, I’ll shoot my foot off’. It was something right from the beginning that was so harmful to us.”

Dame Fairbairn has described Brexit as already being ‘a situation of enormous urgency’, despite the extended deadline of October 31st for the UK’s departure. She has noted that businesses are reporting lost orders and customers, drop-offs in investments and increased costs for stockpiling and other no-deal preparations.

Figures released by the IoD suggest that many businesses aren’t even preparing for Brexit. In a survey of almost 1,000 companies, the IoD found that the number of businesses activating contingency plans between January and April rose from 18% to only 23%; only 4% said they will be putting plans in place in the latest extended period.

Edwin Morgan, the IoD’s interim director general, is quoted in the Guardian as saying:

“Business can have no absolute reassurance that an agreement will be reached, particularly given the commitment of some Conservative leadership candidates to leaving the EU in October, with or without a deal. It feels like the extension is at risk of being wasted.”

Dame Fairbairn has suggested, however, that many companies will be less ready for a no-deal Brexit because than they were in March because they simply cannot afford to continually be preparing for multiple possible eventualities. Furthermore, she notes that the short-term disruption that Brexit could cause is overshadowing the more damaging long-term impact it could have. She said:

"We’re talking too much about the short-term disruption and the empty shelves and poor availability of lettuces; it almost trivialises it. For me, the real risk of no-deal is it triggers a serious decline in our competitiveness for the long-term."

The Institute of Export & International Trade’s training courses and qualifications are designed to give business the skills and knowledge needed to trade successfully, whatever happens with Brexit. While courses like our Post-Brexit Planning Workshop have a focus on the short-term impacts of Brexit, most of our courses give business a holistic understanding of how trade works, allowing businesses to know how to export confidently to markets inside and outside the EU, whatever the specific tariff or customs arrangements in place.

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Bloomberg: ‘No-Deal Brexit Threat Is Act of Self-Harm, Business Chief Says’ - 14th June 2019

The Guardian: ‘UK businesses urged to step up preparations for no-deal Brexit’ – 14th June 2019