UK firms plan mass exodus if May allows no-deal Brexit

Business group warns that companies are getting ready to shift operations abroad

The British Chambers of Commerce has warned that its members are getting ready for Britain to crash out of the EU.
Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

The British Chambers of Commerce has warned that its members are getting ready for Britain to crash out of the EU.
Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

Nick Cohen, The Guardian|AIWA! NO!|Thousands of British companies have already triggered emergency plans to cope with a no-deal Brexit, with many gearing up to move operations abroad from London; if the UK crashes out of the EU, according to the British Chambers of Commerce.

READ RELATED: Brexiters never had a real exit plan. No wonder they avoided the issue

Before a crucial week in parliament, in which MPs will try to wrest control from Theresa May’s government in order to delay Brexit and avoid a no-deal outcome, the BCC said it believed companies that had already gone ahead with their plans represented the “tip of the iceberg” and that many of its 75,000 members were already spending vital funds to prepare for a disorderly exit.

It said that in recent days alone, it had been told that 35 firms had activated plans to move operations out of the UK, or were stockpiling goods to combat the worst effects of Brexit.

Matt Griffith, director of policy at the BCC’s west of England branch, said that many more companies had acted to protect themselves since May’s Brexit deal was decisively rejected by MPs in the Commons earlier this month.

He said: “Since the defeat for the prime minister’s deal, we have seen a sharp increase in companies taking actions to try and protect themselves from the worst effects of a no-deal Brexit. No deal has gone from being one of several possible scenarios to a firm date in the diary.”

Labour MP Yvette Cooper has revealed to the Observer that two major employers in her West Yorkshire constituency – luxury goods manufacturer Burberry and confectioner Haribo – had both written to her, warning of the damaging effects of no deal on their UK operations. Burberry employs 750 people in Castleford, and Haribo 700 across her constituency.

Jeremy Corbyn's top team have inched closer to supporting the bid from backbencher Yvette Cooper in recent days.Credit: PA
Jeremy Corbyn’s top team have inched closer to supporting the bid from backbencher Yvette Cooper in recent days.Credit: 
PA

Cooper is pushing for a Commons amendment – likely to be voted on in Tuesday’s debate – that would pave the way for Brexit to be delayed until the end of this year.

Last week some of the UK’s largest employers – including Airbus, Europe’s largest aerospace manufacturer, which employs 14,000 people in the UK and supports another 110,000 through supply chains – warned of potentially disastrous effects of no deal on its UK activities.Advertisement

Tom Enders, the boss of Airbus, said: “Please don’t listen to the Brexiters’ madness, which asserts that because we have huge plants here we will not move and we will always be here. They are wrong.”

Ever since the vote to leave the EU in 2016, business groups including the BCC and the Confederation of British Industry have lobbied ministers, arguing that our exporters need access to the EU’s customs union, which allows goods to be imported tariff-free.

But the prime minister has insisted that the UK must leave both the customs union and EU single market if it the referendum result of 2016 is to be fully respected.

Business concerns are growing as Downing Street braces for a series of Commons ambushes over Brexit this week. As well as moves to delay the date of leaving beyond 29 March, MPs worried about a cliff-edge exit or a hard Brexit are also planning to force a series of “indicative votes” in parliament on a range of alternative ways forward. These include a Norway-style arrangement and a second referendum.

Some ministers, including Amber Rudd, the work and pensions secretary, and Richard Harrington, the business minister, have signalled they could quit if May does not allow them to back plans to delay Brexit by granting all Tory MPs including ministers a free vote on the issue.

Meanwhile, some pro-Brexit cabinet ministers are pushing the PM to submit her own amendment pledging to renegotiate her Brexit deal, in a bid to win over Tory Brexiters and the Northern Irish DUP. Concerns are growing within the Tory party that the impasse may end in a snap election.

Today, writing in the Observer, cabinet minister David Lidington says he shares the concerns of those worried about no deal and says the government intends to put a revised deal back to the Commons for another “meaningful vote” next month. “Once we have a blueprint for a plan that can secure the support of the House, the prime minister will go back to the EU,” Lidington writes. “MPs will then have another meaningful vote as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile European commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has warned Theresa May in a private phone call that shifting her position in favour of a permanent customs union is the price she will need to pay for the EU revising the Irish backstop.

 Brexiters never had a real exit plan. No wonder they avoided the issue

Nick Cohen

Nick Cohen

 Read more

He said without a major shift in the PM’s position, the current terms of the withdrawal agreement were “non-negotiable”. Details of the call, contained in a leaked diplomatic note, emerged as Juncker’s deputy, Frans Timmermans, told the Observer that there had been no weakening of the resolve in Brussels in support of Ireland, and accused the Tory Brexiters of a “cavalier” approach to peace. “Let me be extremely clear: there is no way I could live in a situation where we throw Ireland under the bus,” Timmermans said.

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BRITISH PRIME MINISTER Theresa May makes no change to demands in talks with EU leaders – report

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves Downing Street, London, Britain, January 18, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May leaves Downing Street, London, Britain, January 18, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

(AIWA! NO!)(Reuters) – British Prime Minister Theresa May made no change to her demands in talks with European Union leaders despite her Brexit plan being defeated by British lawmakers earlier this week, the Telegraph newspaper reported  on Friday.

#maynochange

May’s demands continued to focus around either a legally binding time-limit for the Irish ‘backstop’; a right for Britain to unilaterally withdraw, or a commitment to a trade deal finalisation before 2021 to prevent the backstop from coming into force, the report said, citing unnamed senior EU diplomatic sources.

The backstop is an insurance policy designed to prevent the return of border checks on the frontier between EU-member Ireland and Northern Ireland.

May repeated her demands in talks with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Irish leader Leo Varadkar, the paper reported.

On Friday night, May was also going to meet Arlene Foster, leader of the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party, which has 10 seats in parliament and supports May’s government but not her Brexit deal, a Telegraph reporter said on Twitter. The meeting would also be attended by Nigel Dodds, deputy leader of the DUP.

May’s deal for Britain to leave the EU was defeated earlier this week by 230 votes. She has appealed to MPs to come together to try to break the impasse.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Catherine Evans and Rosalba O’Brien

EU expert perfectly explains why a no-deal Brexit would be so dangerous

British businesses trading on Amazon have been advised to take steps in preparation for a no deal Brexit to ensure they can continue selling to customers in the EU.

British businesses trading on Amazon have been advised to take steps in preparation for a no deal Brexit to ensure they can continue selling to customers in the EU.

Although it can be difficult to sit through an entire episode, Question Time is a great chance to gauge the opinions of the nation outside of the Westminster bubble.

A perfect example of this occurred on Thursday night where audience members in Derby, first applauded the journalist Isabel Oakeshott for suggesting that a no deal is the only option left for Theresa May in her Brexit negotiations. 

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Just moments later Anand Menon, the director of the Brexit thinktank UK in a Changing EU, made a brilliant point about how bad a no deal would be for the UK and won even more praise for this short explanation.

I think it is very, very important to be clear about a no deal. No deal isn’t like buying something. 

It isn’t like going to a shop and if you don’t find anything you don’t like you walk home again. You don’t end up back where you started. 

No deal with the European Union means all the laws that govern our interaction with the EU, whether you can fly, whether you can trade, whether you can shop, whether you can travel, cease to exist.

I don’t know what people voted for when they voted to leave, the voted for lots of different reasons and they were told by the leave campaign that a deal would be easy and I don’t believe all of them voted for no deal.

If you think no deal is fine, that’s great but be aware of what it means. It means severe disruption and from the EU’s point of view, you are absolutely right, a no deal will hurt the Europeans in Calais, in Belgium, in Amsterdam.

One of the reasons the EU has remained united is that some member states don’t trade with us so they’ve got better things to worry about but no deal will hit is far worse than it will hit them.

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The clip has already been viewed over 62,000 times on Twitter and people have been showering praise on Menon for his simple breakdown of what no deal would constitute.

French finance minister Bruno Le Maire: British people paying for Brexit lies

The French finance minister has expressed deep regret over the divisions Brexit has caused

The French finance minister has expressed deep regret over the divisions Brexit has caused

BREXITEERS “lied” to the British people in the lead up to the EU referendum and will “pay” for Brexit, France’s finance minister has claimed.

“Bollocks to Brexit” bus made a re-appearance on the news ahead of Theresa May's historic defeat in the House of  Commons

Bollocks to Brexit” bus made a re-appearance on the news ahead of Theresa May’s historic defeat in the House of  Commons

|AIWA! NO!|The campaign to leave the European Union was “based on lies”, and is something that the British public are now paying for, France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has said.

The issue of Brexit was causing a huge division among the British people, Mr Le Maire told BBC Hardtalk’s Stephen Sackur, and was something he deeply regretted.

He said he hoped the British people and government would find a compromise to the deal that was currently on offer.

Both the Leave and Remain campaigns have accused each other of spreading misinformation during the referendum.

Downing Street prepares Brexit referendum document claiming it would take longer than a year to organise

(Image: Xinhua / Barcroft Images)
(Image: Xinhua / Barcroft Images)

Officials later said that the document had dealt only with a new vote’s potential scheduling to ‘inform discussions’

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is brexit-vote-protesters-23.jpg

Downing Street drew up a paper setting out the potential timescale for a Final Say referendum on Brexit.

The document’s existence emerged after Theresa May used it in meetings with political rivals as she seeks a consensus on how to push ahead with Brexit.

Officials later said that the document had dealt only with its potential scheduling to demonstrate the belief at the top of government that a People’s Vote could take more than a year to organise.

It comes as MPs from across the House of Commons who back a new referendum, manoeuvre to try and force one on to the parliamentary agenda.

Ms May has consistently ruled out a second referendum, but some attendees left meetings with her on Thursday – following her call to speak to all parties on the future of Brexit – suggesting they were struck by work the government has already done looking into one.

Ms May’s spokeswoman said: “In order to inform the discussions, a paper, a very short paper set out in factual detail the number of months which would be required.

“This was illustrative only and our position of course is that there will be no second referendum as the prime minister has repeatedly said.”

The paper is said to have argued that it would take “in excess of a year” to plan and conduct another referendum on Brexit.

The spokeswoman added: “It was produced to inform the expected discussion at some of these meetings.”

The Independent, which has campaigned for a new vote, understands it was a single piece of A4, with bullet points and did not cover other areas such as what question would be asked. Other papers for other scenarios have not been drawn up.

MPs are expected to have the opportunity on 29 January to vote on whether to hold a second referendum, after a Conservative backbencher pledged to put down an amendment to Theresa May’s Brexit plan.

Dr Sarah Wollaston said it was time to put it to a vote of MPs when Brexit was next debated, while Labour MPs who back a People’s Vote have also said they will move to support any parliamentary bid to force another referendum.

Number 10 declined to provide details of discussions in the meeting, but said that Ms May intended to continue talking to engage with parliamentarians and EU leaders over the coming days.

No plans were announced for any trip to Brussels ahead of the publication on Monday of her Brexit Plan B. The PM is expected to spend the weekend at her country residence Chequers.