The need for pragmatism and flexibility

Published:  09 August, 2019

With so much uncertainty surrounding Brexit, manufacturers are becoming increasingly frustrated and desperate to move on. But one thing is very certain - the new Prime Minister must not underestimate the benefits of a good deal for British manufacturers as it will unlock new investment and confidence in factories and boardrooms across the country. It should also not be underestimated that Europe still has huge belief in the UK and getting a deal will ultimately open many doors that have been closed by uncertainty.

It cannot be beyond the ability of both the UK’s and EU’s negotiators to find a way through and agree a deal. If Boris Johnson gets this right, businesses will undoubtedly back him across Europe to help get there.

But as things stand the likelihood of no deal is increasing, and manufacturers need to ensure they are as well prepared as possible for a no deal scenario to reduce the worst effects.

Although this would seem very obvious, analysis from a recent report by the CBI, ‘What comes next? The business analysis of no deal preparations’, shows that neither the EU or UK is ready for no deal on 31st October. Despite businesses having already spent billions on contingency planning for no deal, they remain hampered by unclear advice, timelines, cost and complexity.

The report is based on thousands of conversations with firms of all sizes and sectors, including no fewer than 50 trade associations, spanning all areas of the UK economy. Overall, it illustrates that even with mitigation, 24 of 27 areas of the UK economy would experience disruption.

Stephen Phipson CEO of Make UK, recently warned that for UK manufacturing a no deal Brexit would damage the sector beyond repair. He stressed the need to move quickly to a deal which delivers Brexit and keeps UK manufacturing in a world leading position.

Preparing for no deal is not something we should ever have been contemplating, but the situation can no longer be ignored in light of the current impasse, and it is right and prudent to prepare. It’s also the right time for the Government to review outdated technical notices; launch an ambitious communications campaign for every firm in the country and rigorously test all Government plans and IT systems.

The fact that it’s becoming increasingly obvious both the EU and UK are underprepared, let’s believe that both sides can therefore now show a renewed spirit of pragmatism and flexibility, to achieve a deal that unlocks confidence, and signals the UK is open for business, so manufacturers can move beyond Brexit.

Aaron Blutstein, Editor

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