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Is a ‘No Deal’ Brexit on the horizon?

Published on: 20 December 2018


With the UK’s Withdrawal Agreement stuck in the House of Commons, not set to be voted on by MPs until w/c 14 January and unlikely to succeed without major assurances on the Irish border concerns, work on preparations for a ‘No Deal’ Brexit have been scaled up.

‘No Deal’ preparation work “ramps up”

On top of the wide-ranging advice and guidance on ‘No Deal’ planning already published by the UK Government, it has allocated £2bn across a number of Departments to help with preparations. This includes:

  • Home Office (£480m) will use its funding to increase Border Force capability with hundreds of new officers, continue preparing the EU Settlement Scheme to offer settled status and prepare law enforcement national security preparations
  • The Department for Business (£190m) will deliver business stability for company law and audit, in addition to developing options for a UK Global Navigation Satellite System
  • HMRC (£375m) will employ over 3,000 customer service and compliance staff in operational roles to handle increases in customs activity, aiming to ensure trade continues to flow and revenue is protected. HMRC will also use its funding to deliver new technology and IT requirements at the border to ensure trade is as frictionless as possible
  • The Department for International Trade (£128m) will use its allocation to secure post-Brexit continuity for around 40 trade agreements covering over 70 countries, accounting for 12% of the UK’s total trade. They will also use their funding for work on future trade agreements around the world

The Government is also set to send letters to 140,000 firms updating them on what they should do in preparation for a ‘No Deal’ scenario, as well as publishing a 100-page guidance document on Friday (21 December).

The Government has also published draft legislation on how the Recreational Craft Regulations will be administered in a 'No Deal' scenario. Members can find out more about this legislation and get a steer from British Marine on how this will apply by reading this Latest News story.

The European Commission has also published details on the legislation needed to ensure continuity in eight sectors on a temporary basis. Of those eight, the most relevant areas for the UK marine industry will be on customs policy and the rights of British people living in the European Union.

What is the business community saying?

With just 100 days to go until the formal date of departure – 29 March 2019 – five of the UK’s leading business representative bodies have issued a joint public statement supporting Mrs May’s Withdrawal Agreement and challenging any idea that a “managed” ‘No Deal’ exit from the EU is credible and achievable.

In a statement issued by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI, of which British Marine is a member), the British Chambers of Commerce, EEF (the manufacturers’ organisation), the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the Institute of Directors (IoD), it said:

“Businesses of all sizes are reaching the point of no return, with many now putting in place contingency plans that are a significant drain of time and money. Firms are pausing or diverting investment that should be boosting productivity, innovation, jobs and pay, into stockpiling goods or materials, diverting cross border trade and moving offices, factories and therefore jobs and tax revenues out of the UK. While many companies are actively preparing for a ‘no deal’ scenario, there are also hundreds of thousands who have yet to start – and cannot be expected to be ready in such a short space of time.”

The work of British Marine

British Marine has been pushing a number of key positions for the UK marine industry to the Government, in particular on issues such as VAT paid status on vessels, access to skilled labour and tariff-free and frictionless trade.

While the Withdrawal Agreement is not perfect and there is still much more detail needed from the Political Declaration on the Future Relationship, the importance of a deal and the transition period included within it is vital to the 4000+ marine businesses in the UK, over 80% of which are micro and small sized businesses.

British Marine continues to make these cases to Government and Ministers. More information on all British Marine’s work to date, along with a range of guidance documents, is available to members on the British Marine website.