U.K. manufacturers and their counterparts across the European Union said they’re “woefully” unprepared for a no-deal Brexit and called on the bloc to avoid Britain leaving without an agreement.
“Neither the EU nor the U.K. are ready, and as a consequence European industry is also not adequately prepared, for this cliff-edge scenario,” manufacturing lobby groups MakeUK and Ceemet said Wednesday in a letter to governments and EU Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier. In a separate statement, they said a lack of “coherent preparation” by governments left manufacturers “woefully unprepared” for a no-deal outcome.
The intervention comes as EU leaders meet in Brussels to discuss whether to grant Prime Minister Theresa May an extension to the U.K.’s membership. She’s seeking to push Brexit back to June 30 from the current deadline of Friday.
In addition to calling on governments to ensure a no-deal Brexit doesn’t happen, the groups want measures to mitigate any damage. In that scenario, British goods would need to undergo regulatory tests in the EU, they said, while U.K. professional qualifications would no longer be automatically recognized on the continent. There are also issues around visas for business travel.
“These are just a handful of the complexities in the relationship between the EU and the U.K. which have not been addressed in the event of a no-deal exit,” they wrote.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond on Tuesday risked inflaming tensions with business by accusing them of failing to prepare for the possibility of a no-deal departure from the EU.
While large manufacturers have been building buffer stocks of imported components, “there are still far too many businesses who have adopted the famous approach of the ostrich in the sand in relation to this eventuality,’’ he said in Parliament when asked if firms were ready for a no-deal Brexit.
By Alex Morales