With a new Prime Minister in the offing and today no fewer than 12 potential candidates throwing their hat into the ring it’s fair to say that with Brexit on the 29th of March having been cancelled and then Brexit 2.0 on the 12th of April coming and going, no one has a clue as to how Brexit 3.0 will now play out.
Candidates vary in their attitude from being perfectly willing to accept a Brexit 3.0 with no deal on the 31st of October to a second referendum and even going back to the EU to ask for an even longer extension and hoping that it might be granted. In the middle of all this regardless who becomes PM they are in an incredibly weak position politically with Labour calling for a General Election and edging towards a second referendum, although in truth Labour are just as divided on Brexit as the conservatives.
Preparing for Brexit 3.0 when you don’t know what will happen is expensive and as many have already discovered can be largely pointless. Car manufacturers paused production when Brexit was supposed to happen earlier this year and many businesses stock piled materials, stepped up production and situated stock in the EU and then nothing happened. Twice.
Today, the CBI have written an open letter to candidates for PM on behalf of the 190,000 firms they represent. Calling for a deal and a clear warning to avoid a no deal Brexit, Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the CBI, says that most businesses simply can’t prepare for a no deal Brexit.
“Firms large and small are clear that leaving the EU with a deal is the best way forward. Short-term disruption and long-term damage to British competitiveness will be severe if we leave without one. The vast majority of firms can never be prepared for no-deal, particularly our SME members who cannot afford complex and costly contingency plans.”
– Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general, CBI
For online sellers, it might be fair to say that most businesses will have to face Brexit challenges at some point in the future anyway. It’s worth remembering the the so called “Deal” is merely a transition deal while our main trading relationship with the EU is negotiated for the future. A bad deal could end up being worse as it limits what negotiations are possible in the future but equally a no deal means we take the pain immediately up front.
We already trade with much of the world on WTO terms and online sellers cope admirably, the preparations most sellers need is to know that their carrier partners are ready and that their software solutions will be able to produce whatever customs paperwork is required and be able to calculate tariffs for goods entering and leaving the country.
The biggest uncertainty for small businesses could potentially come from exchange rates and the ability to order stock and manage supplies to and from the EU and the rest of the world. With outcomes ranging from no deal on the 31st of October to yet another extension for an indeterminate period, what are you doing to prepare for Brexit 3.0… or have you washed your hands of the whole thing and simply carrying on with business as normal with a wait and see attitude? Will Brexit even happen or will the whole thing end up being cancelled?