Pandemic will ‘compound the pain’ of a no-deal Brexit, company bosses say

More than half of directors of UK firms say that the pandemic would exacerbate the damage caused by a no-deal Brexit, according to a survey of directors.

The findings of a poll of members of the Institute of Directors comes a day before the government puts London in its new “high” risk tier for Covid-19 restrictions. Some 54% of the 958 company directors surveyed by the membership body said that the coronavirus would make the fallout worse if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal.

Yesterday was Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s self-imposed deadline for the UK to reach an agreement on trade with the EU; the real deadline will be the middle of November if both parties are to ratify a deal by the end of the transition period on 31 December.

More than 40% of company directors had not completed their preparations for a messy divorce from the EU, according to the survey which was conducted between 11 and 30 September.

The leaders of the EU’s main nation states met in Brussels on 15 October to discuss Brexit. Boris Johnson will set out his stall later today after the summit — at which the UK is not present — has concluded.

“We want a deal on the right terms,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesperson said on October 13. “If we can’t get there, we are ready and willing to go with an Australian-style outcome”.

The Institute of Directors wants both the UK and EU negotiators to work “constructively” towards a deal. It has also urged the government to provide financial support to aid small firms’ as they adjust to Brexit.

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“The prospect of no deal would be daunting enough, let alone dealing with it in the middle of a global pandemic,” Allie Renison, senior policy advisor at the Institute, said in a statement.

“These disruptions won’t cancel each other out,” she added. “If anything, they would compound the pain for British businesses.”

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To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Bérengère Sim

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