Warning British firms cannot cope with no deal and virus

Carolyn Fairbairn, Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). EPA-EFE/ANDY RAIN

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British firms do not have the resilience to cope with a no-deal Brexit after the battering of the coronavirus crisis, according to the outgoing boss of industry body the CBI.

Carolyn Fairbairn said a CBI member had likened a no-deal to “setting the shed on fire” while the house was in flames.

Brexit trade negotiations have not been going well between the UK and the EU.

A government spokesperson said the UK wanted to reach an agreement with the EU this year.

British business is not ready to withstand the additional disruption of leaving the EU without a trade deal, according to the outgoing boss of the UK’s most influential business group.

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn told the BBC that any buffers to cope with the additional cost and planning of an exit from the EU without a deal had been exhausted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The resilience of British business is absolutely on the floor.

“Every penny of cash that had been stored up, all the stockpiles prepared have been run down.

“The firms that I speak to have not a spare moment to plan for a no trade deal Brexit at the end of the year – that is the common sense voice that needs to find its way into these negotiations.”

Those negotiations are not going well. They broke up last week with the EU’s chief negotiator saying that very little progress had been made on key sticking points, including future fishing rights in UK waters, and commitments to maintain a “level playing field” over regulation and competition.

Read more via BBC

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