British business ‘Horrified’ time is running out in Brexit shambles

blow to Theresa May’s Brexit deal

British business groups have criticised politicians for focusing on in-fighting rather than preparing for Brexit, warning that there is not enough time to prepare for a no-deal scenario.

With 100 days to go before the UK leaves the EU, the groups say firms have been “watching in horror” at the ongoing rows within Westminster.

The cabinet met on Tuesday to ramp up preparations for a no-deal departure.

But the groups say the idea that “no-deal” can be managed is not credible.

In other Brexit developments:

  • The EU is to push ahead with its planning for Brexit, including if there is no deal, with the European Commission set to publish legislation to ensure continuity in some sectors on a temporary basis
  • The SNP and other opposition parties table a vote of no confidence in the UK government – but it is understood the government only has to give time to motions tabled in the name of the Leader of the Opposition
  • Prime Minister Theresa May is to urge the first ministers of Scotland and Wales to back her Brexit deal at a summit in London
  • The Public Accounts Committee of MPs says the government has not done enough to secure the supply of medical equipment in a no-deal scenario.

In a joint statement, the British Chambers of Commerce, the Confederation of British Industry, manufacturers’ organisation the EEF, the Federation of Small Businesses and the Institute of Directors said: “Businesses have been watching in horror as politicians have focused on factional disputes rather than practical steps that business needs to move forward.

Carolyn Fairbairn
Carolyn Fairbairn – Director General of the CBI

“The lack of progress in Westminster means that the risk of a no-deal Brexit is rising.”

The government said on Tuesday that it had sent letters to 140,000 businesses, urging them to trigger their no-deal contingency plans as appropriate.

It will also distribute 100-page information packs on Friday.

The five business groups, which represent hundreds of thousands of UK firms, said that because of a lack of progress, the government “is understandably now in a place where it must step up no-deal planning”.

But they say: “It is clear there is simply not enough time to prevent severe dislocation and disruption in just 100 days.

“This is not where we should be.”