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Firms ‘face tangle of red tape under no-deal Brexit’

International Business
Sat, 25 Aug 2018

LONDON: Britain yesterday told companies trading with the European Union they would face a tangle of red tape, possible border delays and costlier credit card payments if the government fails to negotiate an exit deal before Britain leaves the bloc.

Brexit minister Dominic Raab said he remained confident the two sides would reach a deal, but set out in a series of 25 notes what could change without one. With little more than seven months to go until it leaves the EU on March 29, Britain has yet to reach an agreement with the bloc on the terms of its departure. Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan for a “business-friendly” deal has failed to impress negotiators in Brussels and has been heavily criticised at home.

“We have a duty, as a responsible government, to plan for every eventuality,” Raab said. “To do this, we need to have a sensible, responsible and realistic conversation about what a no-deal situation really means in practice.”

After more than 40 years in the EU, Britain is having to set

out its plans for every aspect of life. Around 80 technical notices are expected over the coming weeks, with the first 25 covering everything from the movement of organs, blood and sperm to nuclear regulation and

organic food.

The guidelines make it clear that companies trading with Europe would face new customs and excise rules and require paperwork covering customs and safety declarations.

If Britain left without a deal “the free circulation of goods between the UK and EU would cease,” the guidance said.

Chris Goodfellow, who runs logistics group Lockerfreight,

said his clients were asking if they needed more staff to handle customs. “My head is spinning and my clients are panicking,” he said. “My phone has not stopped.”

“The companies that only deal with Europe don’t realise how much more work is involved.”

Supporters of Brexit say there may be some short-term pain for the British economy

but it will prosper in the long-term when cut free from the EU’s rules and regulations.

A European Commission spokesman said it was clear that the withdrawal of the UK was going to lead to disruption “with a deal or without a deal. And that’s why everybody, in particular economic operators, needs to be prepared.”

The government asked drugmakers to stockpile medicines for six weeks above normal operations – a target the industry said would be challenging – and called for medicines with short shelf-lives to be flown in to the country.

On financial services the government said Britons will have to pay more to make card payments in the EU and businesses on the continent could be cut off from investment banks in London if there is a no-deal Brexit.

Finance minister Philip Hammond, in a letter to a Conservative legislator, said the potential hit to the economy from a no-deal Brexit could result in “large fiscal consequences” for Britain.

One of the main outstanding issues is the Irish border, which the no-deal papers failed to address, simply repeatedly saying the government would “take full account of the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland” in its no-deal planning.

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