We know what you’re thinking – Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without Brexit, and what could be more festive than mince pies, mistletoe, carols, a silly jumper and another means of leaving the EU? Well, all your Christmas wishes might just have come true, because we can now add the ‘managed no deal’ to Canada plus, Norway plus, Theresa May’s deal, no deal, and no Brexit. Yes, we’re in the Christmas spirit, too.
While a no deal Brexit means leaving the EU on March 29 2019 with no withdrawal agreement in place, a ‘managed no deal’ has been referred to as a ‘glide path’ out of the EU, with the disruption caused by a sudden exit contained by a series of side deals with individual EU member states in areas such as aviation, haulage, and pharmaceuticals. As a ‘plan B’, the idea has been gaining currency, though the EU has said publically that no such outcome is possible for the UK.
Government policy remains to pursue a deal with the EU27, but planning has gathered pace with the announcement that it is to allocate £2bn to government departments to prepare for a no deal scenario. As part of its efforts to ‘ramp up’ preparations, the government is set to write to 140,000 firms with advice on a no deal exit, email 80,000 organisations considered to be the most likely to face disruption, and release a 100-page pack through HMRC that will be available to all businesses. The cabinet has agreed that businesses should activate their own no deal contingency plans.
In response, the CBI has urged politicians to make progress towards a deal. In a joint press release issued with the British Chambers of Commerce, the Confederation of British Industry, the EEF and the Institute of Directors, the CBI underlined the difficulty for businesses caused by the current uncertainty, commenting that “While many companies are actively preparing for a ‘no deal’ scenario, there are also hundreds of thousands who have yet to start – and cannot be expected to be ready in such a short space of time.”
Of course, if your business is in the ‘yet to start’ category, crossing your corporate fingers and hoping that a deal might be struck is probably losing its appeal as a strategy. Indeed, to follow the analogy of work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd, who is said to have told the Cabinet this week that “just because you put a seatbelt on doesn’t mean you should crash the car”, if you think that the car might be about to crash, you should probably put your seatbelt on. So whether the size of the task is too daunting, you can’t afford to commit resources to something that might not happen, or you’re unsure whether Brexit will impact on your organisation at all, any amount of planning, no matter how basic, is better than no planning at all. Not only might some contingency planning allow you to identify potential risks to your business, you might also uncover opportunities that a no deal outcome – managed or otherwise – may bring.
In a previous post, we discussed forming a Brexit steering group to consider how you might be affected, and we’ll be suggesting some practical ways over the coming weeks and months to help guide your organisation’s response, but a great next step is to talk – to your suppliers, your customers, your commercial partners, your trade associations, professional advisers and industry representatives, all of whom may be able to offer advice on your approach, the issues that you’ll face, and what you can do to prepare for and deal with a no deal Brexit.
For help with preparing your business for Brexit please contact Luke or one of the team.