The Chief Executive of the Civil Service has warned MPs that a breakdown between the UK and the EU could have some “horrendous consequences” that the UK is not ready to cope with.
According to John Manzoni, after 45 years of integration, a sudden rupture would affect almost every part of life in the UK, and businesses are already stockpiling food and medicine.
Over the coming weeks, the Government will start issuing weekly advice to businesses on how to prepare for a “disorderly” Brexit. As part of this, small businesses could be asked to start making customs declarations.
The Government has warned that because of the new customs checks, the M26 could become a “holding area” for 14,000 trucks to ease the gridlock as 10,000 lorries a day are potentially delayed.
According to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), businesses are already thinking through the potential impact of changes to cross-border trade, staffing contracts, VAT and intellectual property.
Meanwhile, a recent survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) found that 61 per cent of members are developing a contingency plan for a “no deal” scenario, although the vast majority of them are finding this difficult because of the lack of information available.
Business leaders in the UK agree that the lack of information to firms means they have no idea what to plan for, with a spokesman for the Food and Drink Federation saying that some businesses are increasing their stock of ingredients on UK soil.
Meanwhile, as a spokesman for the UK Warehousing Association pointed out, half of the food consumed in the UK is imported, with 80 per cent of that food coming from the EU via Dover.