The UK and European Union are not ready for a no-deal Brexit, according to business lobby group Confederation of British Industry (CBI).
The CBI has now tabled 200 recommendations for the UK, the EU, and business owners to help accelerate preparations for no deal in its report What Comes Next? The Business Analysis Of No Deal Preparations.
The group says although businesses have already spent billions on contingency planning for a no-deal exit from Europe, they remain hampered by unclear advice, timelines, cost and complexity.
Josh Hardie, CBI deputy-director general, said: “Businesses are desperate to move beyond Brexit. They have huge belief in the UK and getting a deal will open many doors that have been closed by uncertainty.
“It cannot be beyond the wit of the continent’s greatest negotiators to find a way through and agree a deal.
“But until this becomes a reality, all must prepare to leave without one.”
The CBI says 24 of 27 areas of the UK economy would experience disruption if there was a no-deal Brexit, saying: “While the UK’s preparations to date are welcome, the unprecedented nature of Brexit means some aspects cannot be mitigated.”
One example of the potential problems caused by no deal is the sale of organic foods.
Importers will need special licences to operate as a non-EU based company. If those licences aren’t in place before the UK leaves the EU, the companies could find themselves “locked out” of European markets for up to four months.
Tom Pell, owner of Birmingham’s first zero waste supermarket called The Clean Kilo, sells unpackaged and mainly organic goods to customer who bring their own containers.
He said: “It would be difficult for us to compete with the large supermarkets and discounters who can stockpile products. And if our suppliers have to increase prices because of red tape or supply problems, we’d have little choice but to pass that on to our customers.”
His partner, Jeanette Wong, also fears that if costs go up too much, their loyal customer base might be forced to compromise their morals and buy less ethically sourced and more environmentally damaging, but ultimately cheaper products.
The government says “turbo-charging” preparations for a no deal exit are now a priority.
It is now “working on the assumption” the UK will leave the EU without a deal, according to Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove.
Mr Gove, who has been tasked by new Prime Minister Boris Johnson with boosting preparations for a no-deal Brexit, wrote in The Sunday Times that this scenario is now a “very real prospect”.