The head of Amazon in the UK, Doug Gurr, has been reported as saying that the UK faces “civil unrest” within weeks of a no-deal Brexit as the country faces numerous problems should it drop out of the union without new arrangements in place.
Needless to say, the government has dismissed the claim and says the main aim is still a functioning agreement that will hopefully be in place by October. On the specific “civil unrest” claim a Number 10 spokesperson said: “Where is the evidence to suggest that would happen?” Amazon has refused to confirm or deny whether Gurr did indeed make the comment at a meeting of business leaders at the end of last week.
Like any business, we consider a wide range of scenarios in planning discussions so that we’re prepared to continue serving customers and small businesses who count on Amazon, even if those scenarios are very unlikely. This is not specific to any one issue – it’s the way we plan for any number of issues around the world.
– Amazon UK
Gurr was at a meeting convened by Dominic Raab, the government’s new Brexit secretary, at Chevening in Kent on Friday. Also present at the meeting were Barclays chairman, Sir Ian Cheshire; the chairman of supermarket Morrisons, Andy Higginson; the chief executive of Lloyd’s of London, Dame Inga Beale; and the UK chair of Shell, Sinead Lynch.
It is worth considering a worst case scenario whereby the UK leaves the EU without any deal whatsoever for immediate arrangements. Indeed, both the UK government and the European Union say they are increasingly working on contingency plans for such an outcome. But the more pessimistic commentators predicts food and medicine shortages.
It would be extremely interesting to understand exactly what it was that Gurr said, and indeed if he did make the claim about societal problems, exactly what he meant by them. As negotiations get ever closer to the wire, and the politicians seem ever more ideological and intransigent, voices from people in the real world of business speaking up are most welcome. Especially when it comes to the potential risks of no-deal.