Have you ever seen a mother of little ones leave the house for a day? They are weighed down with heavy bags, packed for every eventuality. Snacks, change of clothes, wipes, so many wipes… They are prepared for anything the day may throw at them. As business leaders facing Brexit, we need to do the same.
On the 4th December 2018, HMRC published a letter to businesses that trade with the EU with action to take if the UK should leave the EU without a deal. Of course, the government hopes that a deal will be in place by March of next year, and still describes leaving with no deal as an ‘unlikely event’ but nonetheless, highlights actions businesses need to take. And no, there is no mention of stockpiling resources!
In summary, the letter asks businesses to take three actions now:
- register for a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number
- decide whether they will use a customs agent to make import and/or export declarations or will make the declarations themselves using specialist software
- contact the organisation that moves their goods (for example, a haulage firm) to find out if they will need to supply additional information to complete safety and security declarations, or whether they will need to submit these declarations themselves.
Are you ready for immediate change?
If we leave the EU without a deal on the 29th March 2019, there will be immediate changes to the way we trade with businesses in the EU. The UK would revert to World Trade Organisation rules on trade. Britain would no longer be bound by EU rules, but it would face the EU’s external tariffs. This could result in an increase on the price of goods in shops for Britons because of the tariffs on imported goods from the EU. In addition, some British-made products could be rejected by the EU as new authorisation and certification might be required.
Manufacturers could move their operations to the EU to avoid delays in components coming across the border. Certain companies based in Britain may even want to consider moving their headquarters abroad. In October of this year, the government actually published an advice paper titled “Structuring your business if there’s no Brexit deal” which advises companies incorporated under EU corporate law, that moving to a country that is still a member state may be better for their business. For an overview on the government’s advice on how to prepare if the UK leaves the EU with no deal, visit their web page here for updates.
More than just a trade deal
The published letter from the government focuses on trade, but as there are other factors business leaders need to consider:
- People – Professionals working in the EU and similarly, EU citizens working in the UK could find their qualifications are no longer recognized, meaning they are no longer able to practice.
- Laws – Relevant EU laws would be transferred over so there would be no holes in our lawbook. We would no longer have to adhere to the rulings of the European Court of Justice but the UK would be bound to the European Court of Human Rights.
Have you considered all the factors that could effect your business or your members or staff? Do you take regular flights to the EU for business meetings for example? Have a contingency plan in place. It’s also been widely reported that a no-deal Brexit would wipe out 12% of the UK’s total trade. Trade agreements with other countries, through EU membership will cease to apply if the UK crashes out of the EU next March.
Is ‘no deal’ better than a bad deal?
In short, this is not something I really feel qualified to answer. There are senior Leave supporters who think that a no-deal Brexit would be perfectly acceptable, as long as sufficient preparations have been made. Is the option of a no-deal Brexit actually an opportunity for a clean break and new start? Could it even be as Liz Bilney, CEO of Leave.EU argues, “a fabulous opportunity for a fairer more prosperous Britain?”
We can read plenty of worrying news stories foreseeing a lack of food supplies, a shortage of medicines, EU citizens in limbo and lorries clogging up the roads. Does it serve us to focus on the worse case scenarios? Less known is that British travellers heading to the EU could be blocked from using their online streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify!! So, if you’re planning travel after March 2019, finish your box set now and pack a good book.
What do we know? Be prepared.
Receiving this letter from HMRC has, for many, made the forecast of a no-deal Brexit all the more real. We are being warned; we are being told to prepare. However, we would be wise not to panic. Yes, let’s be prepared, but let’s also be optimistic. Good business leaders are opportunists. There may be hard decisions to make, but we can do it. We are a resilient nation. One that has time and time again made leaps and bounds on a global scale, despite being a small island. We have great businesses, great workers. We will cope with whatever situation we find ourselves in.
Kaleida is a bespoke software development house based in Manchester. Our team ensure they understand the political headlines and how they could impact our clients. For more news and insights, be sure to visit the Kaleida blog. Or, to find out about how we can help your business to thrive, be sure to get in touch.