(Reuters) - Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was time to prepare for a no-trade deal Brexit in 10 weeks as the European Union had refused to negotiate seriously, adding that unless Brussels changed course there would be no agreement.
Following is initial industry reaction:
HELEN DICKINSON, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF THE BRITISH RETAIL CONSORTIUM:
“There is nothing retailers can do to insulate consumers from the impact of 3 billion pounds ($3.9 billion) of new tariffs on food in our supermarkets. Moreover, new checks and red tape that will apply from 1st January will create additional disruption in the supply of many goods that come from or through the EU.
Government must do what is necessary to agree a zero-tariff agreement, or else it will be the public that pay the price.”
ALLIE RENISON, SENIOR POLICY ADVISOR AT THE INSTITUTE OF DIRECTORS
“Few would doubt that getting ready for no deal in the middle of a pandemic will be a Herculean task for many businesses. Our figures show that most directors think that COVID will magnify the impact of no deal.
“While there may be opportunities on the other side of transition, it remains imperative to minimise the risks in getting there to maximise any future benefits. Both sides must keep their eyes on the prize of a deal, which is in everyone’s best interests.”
IAN WRIGHT, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, FOOD AND DRINK FEDERATION:
“The Prime Minister’s statement signals that we are heading into very dangerous territory.
“In the event of a no-deal Brexit, shoppers will - literally - pay a heavy price. Imported food and drink from the EU will face eye-watering tariffs, averaging 18%, and kick-starting price rises.
“At the same time, border delays and disruption will bring further costs which will not be subsumed by industry. A no-deal outcome is bad for food and drink businesses, bad for food security, and bad for every household in Great Britain.”
MIKE CHERRY, CHAIRMAN, FEDERATION OF SMALL BUSINESSES:
“More than four years on from the referendum, clarity is needed now more than ever. A pro-business, ambitious trade agreement remains the best outcome.
“The last time we were told to prepare for a no-deal scenario you saw a big uptick in stockpiling. There simply isn’t the cash or staff capacity to make that possible this time round, with a lot of employees still furloughed amid weak demand.
“A lot of small businesses have shelled out thousands to make their premises safe at a time when they had little or no revenue coming in, only to be told to close.
“If the Government wants firms to step up preparations for a new relationship with the EU, it needs to make doing so financially viable. At the moment, thousands of small businesses are running on near empty.”
Editing by Keith Weir/Toby Chopra
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