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Businesses ‘need more details’ to de-code no-deal Brexit advice

Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab during his speech in central London, on preparations for a no deal Brexit which coincides with the publication of the first of the Government's technical notes on the no deal preparations. Picture: Peter Nicholls/PA Wire.

Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab during his speech in central London, on preparations for a no deal Brexit which coincides with the publication of the first of the Government's technical notes on the no deal preparations. Picture: Peter Nicholls/PA Wire.

Business lobbying groups have blasted a series of government documents laying out advice for a no-deal Brexit.

The Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) has prepared more than 80 papers detailing the implications of a no-deal Brexit in everything from investment banking to genetic modification.

In a note on trade, DExEU said it was “prioritising certainty and continuity” for businesses trading with the EU – but said the regulatory burden on them would increase and advised businesses to consider engaging a logistics provider or customs broker.

A note on banking and financial services said little will change for UK customers using UK-based firms, or even firms in the EEA (European Economic Area) which operate in the UK, but EEA-based customers may lose access to UK service providers.

In workplace rights, the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 has already made provision for EU Directives – which cover aspects including parental leave, health and safety and discrimination – to be moved across to UK law, but DExEU said some amendments may be made.

Some business leaders feel the “technical notes” leave many questions unanswered.

Josh Hardie, deputy director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said a no-deal would “wreak havoc” and that smaller firms would come off worst unless the government set up a “one-stop shop” for them to access advisory services. He said: “Smaller firms simply do not have the resources to assess what the worst-case scenario would mean to their enterprises.”

David Howell, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) East Anglia area lead, said small firms may struggle to afford extra services and staff to negotiate the new regulatory landscape.

“A pro-business Brexit is one with a transition period – a vital lifeline that won’t be there in a no-deal scenario,” he said.

“It’s right to prepare for a no-deal outcome. That means following up these notices with guidance that every small business owner can understand.”

Julie Austin, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce international trade manager, said “clear, crisp communication” with affected businesses was long overdue. She added businesses “still need more detailed information to trade as smoothly as possible across borders”.

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