Brexit expert tells industry to be prepared for the worst

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 8 Dec 2017

A LEADING expert on Brexit has called on East Yorkshire businesses in the region to get preparations in place for the worst case scenario as negotiations continue.  

Speaking ahead of a Humber Business Leaders Lunch, Allie Renison, head of Europe and trade policy for the Institute of Directors,  called on business leaders to make contingency plans for a “no deal scenario”.

Brexit talks have stalled recently following the lack of any agreement over the Irish border. Theresa May is under pressure to reach an agreement on the border before further negotiations can take place and Britain leaves the EU on March 2019 and the expert believes delays could be a cause for concern.

Ms Renison said that the most important thing business directors can do is begin preparations to ensure workers are not affected by trade negotiations. 

She said: “I want to talk about some of the preparation work and what we hope businesses are already starting to do. As long as no deal remains a possibility you can’t instantly bank on any  
specific assurances.

“There are plenty of businesses who are already in advanced stages of planning, which is important, but there are a lot who have not yet done that. 

“Business should develop protocols based on scenarios, for example if we’re outside of the customs union. 

“It’s important that organisations like ourselves show businesses what a contingency plan looks like. You need to look at your supply chain as well and what their plan should involve.”

She says that any contingency plans would be particularly important if negotiations were to fail, and lead to a “no deal” scenario. 

“We know no deal is a possibility and that is ultimately what businesses have prepare for,” Ms Renison said. “There needs to be an anticipation that custom declarations may be enforced and those with high export percentage will therefore need everything in order.

“Businesses need to do new audit checks. There may become specific time when new audit checks need to take place later down the line as well. We don’t know what would replace freedom of movement so that is bound to have a clear impact. 

“Obviously, changes won’t be the same for all sectors. For examples pharmaceuticals will be one particular area where recognising what is currently directed from EU law or the WTO is important.”

Last week the Office For National Statistics revealed a fall in net migration to the UK by more than 100,000 in the year following the Brexit vote. 

Ms Renison, who will be speaking to business leaders at the University of Hull on Thursday December 7, said that there has been an “exodus” of EU nationals, but employers, particularly in processing industries, will need to prepare for changes in freedom of movement.

She said: “A lot of employers in farming or food manufacturing, obviously important in East Yorkshire, will be particularly concerned about the effect of having large numbers of EU nationals on their staff. 

“We are not seeing an exodus by EU nationals working here at the moment, so employers will hope there is not any sort of rapid change. We are starting to see it a little bit in figures released yesterday, showing more people leaving the UK. 

“There will be an issue in those processing industries where they employ lots of people, particularly EU nationals, and there could be rules brought in where people might need work sponsors for visas. These could be £84,000 to sponsor someone, so it would be a huge financial cost, and means that employers would not want to see that action taken retroactively.”

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