British businesses are urged to monitor the Brexit situation, even if the government is trying to reduce public attention regarding this matter.
Adam Johnson, director of Leeds-based Tudor International Freight, said communication from and within the government since last month’s general election has confirmed the Conservatives’ campaign slogan that returning the party to power would mean “getting Brexit done” when the UK leaves the EU on 31 January.
Mr Johnson declared: “One relevant post-election development was the government’s confirmation that the dedicated Department for Exiting the EU, and therefore the House of Commons Brexit select committee, will be abolished at the end of this month. Also, media reports have stated Prime Minister Boris Johnson has banned officials from using the word ‘Brexit’, that Downing Street will not refer to a future ‘deal’ with the EU, and that number 10’s dedicated Brexit press team will be renamed, from February onwards. The government is also apparently planning to deny Parliament oversight of the talks ahead and a vote on extending the post-Brexit transition period, which it’s committed to ending on 31 December this year.”
According to Mr Johnson, these actions are leading that the Prime Minister was trying to present the negotiations as a matter of foreign and economic policy, subject of interest only for specialist. These aspects would represent a matter of high importance for business as well.
He stated: “One potential reason for the government’s apparent positioning that Brexit is all-but over is it wants to try and reduce scrutiny of the agreements the Prime Minister will make with the EU in the months ahead. This is because, whether he sticks to his guns or makes concessions, he’s bound to upset significant audiences at home.”
Regarding the Prime Minister's agreement of a distant future trading relationship with the EU, Mr Johnson declared that British businesses would face costs increase and administrative burdens, followed by significantly lower sales.
He declared: “Britain’s economy overall will be damaged in these circumstances, because of factors such as the EU currently buying almost half our exports, whereas it purchases only about eight per cent of Canada’s. This consideration has acquired new significance since the general election, as among the areas likely to be hardest by such a Brexit are the former Labour constituencies in areas such as the English north and midlands that the government is understandably proud of having won.”
On the other hand, Mr Johnson said, if the Prime Minister would agree with a closer future trading relationship with the EU, this decisions would be appreciated by the more extreme Brexiters, in his party and elsewhere.
He stated: “Such concessions are likely to be needed, however, if any comprehensive agreement is to be reached with a more powerful partner within the existing transition period. This timescale implies a window for these demanding and detailed talks – officially aimed at producing agreements not just on trade but also financial services, fishing, Northern Ireland and data issues – only from March to around October. Many experts also believe these retreats will be necessary if the Conservatives are to fund their general election spending pledges, such as an extra £34bn a year for the NHS by the end of the Parliament and investing £29bn in strategic roads.”
Mr Johnson also added: “It’s not a happy portent the Prime Minister reportedly used a four-letter word to describe his view of business, in June 2018, when asked about its fears over a hard Brexit. Companies and their representative bodies should, therefore, maintain the pressure on him in the coming months to secure a deal which does the least possible damage to their interests and our economic prosperity. As businesses in Northern Ireland can testify, the Prime Minister is no stranger to breaking his Brexit pledges, when he feels the need, so there’s still much to play for.”
Source: Forwarder Magazine
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