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Brexit leaves UK firms in an "impossible situation"

17 September 2019

A new poll by the Institute of Directors has found that UK firms want an end to Brexit uncertainty but don't want the UK to leave with no deal.

The Institute of Directors (IoD) has called on the UK and EU to compromise on Brexit while urging both to improve their no deal planning efforts, as its latest survey results reveal the "impossible situation" facing business leaders.

The IoD has polled 950 business leaders about the prospects of a further Article 50 extension or of a no-deal Brexit. The findings show that 51% said that no deal would be more negative for their organisation, above the 32% who said further delay could have a worse impact.

The new analysis also shows that directors of smaller firms are "notably less likely to be fully prepared" than their larger company counterparts. Nearly a third of IoD members surveyed said they are engaging with relocation as part of their Brexit contingency planning, with 14% saying they have already moved operations or are in the process of doing so.

Allie Renison, IoD head of Europe and trade policy, said: "Firms are facing an impossible situation as they try to prepare in advance for the possibility of simultaneous sweeping changes on an unprecedented level. The idea of leaving the EU without a deal in place is certainly the bigger concern, but the prospect of repeated delays with no clear path forward is far from an appetising prospect for enterprise."

Businesses urgently need more targeted help and financial assistance, she said. "Both the UK and its European counterparts must also step up clear communication about the full raft of changes that no-deal would bring for business, as many key areas are still light on detail. After all, it's companies who will have to make the new systems work, not just public sector infrastructure.

"Crucially, both UK and EU politicians need to strain every sinew to find a deal, extension or not. Compromise is not a dirty word, and neither side wants to be managing the fall-out of no-deal for the foreseeable future. This is as much about the jobs and livelihoods of those who would be most affected as it is about politics and procedure."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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