Preparing Brexit: the scale of the task left for UK business and government


This latest report, from UK think tank the Institute for Government looks at how coronavirus has impacted on how and if businesses can prepare for Brexit.

The coronavirus crisis has left many companies in a worse position to prepare for Brexit than they were ahead of a possible no-deal outcome in 2019. This report finds that many businesses are poorly positioned for the end of the transition period on 31 December. It also finds that however well businesses prepare, the new friction at the EU–UK border could lead to major disruption, will force many of them to change their operations fundamentally and could even make some unviable. Coronavirus has starved firms of cash and left many struggling to stay afloat. This has derailed their Brexit preparations, preventing them from investing in new customs processes or stockpiling to protect themselves against disruption to supply chains. Smaller businesses have been particularly badly affected. Government preparations have advanced at a slower pace due to the crisis, with vital components of Britain’s post-Brexit border arrangements still not ready. The lack of clarity over what – if any – trade deal might emerge from negotiations, and the measures the UK will take to mitigate disruption has also meant that businesses are hesitant to start preparations. The paper recommends that the government: takes account of the impact of Brexit when finalising its economic response to coronavirus provides targeted support for the least prepared businesses clearly communicates what mitigations or unilateral measures it will put in place.

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