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Businesses seek ‘clear answers’ over trade after Brexit

The BCC has warned that firms are being ‘hung out to dry’ due to uncertainty over Brexit Photo: PA

A leading business group has warned that firms are being “hung out to dry” because of the continued uncertainty over a no-deal Brexit.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) published a list of 20 “critical” questions it said remained unanswered for business if the UK leaves the EU on March 29 without a deal.

The points raised included what trade agreements will be in place, how firms can move skilled staff between the UK and EU, and which regulations will have to be followed.

The group warned that investment and growth had already been “stifled”, leading to loss of business as customers look elsewhere.

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Government agencies were accused of failing to give companies the information needed to prepare for Brexit day and beyond.

Adam Marshall, director general of the BCC, said: “In less than 50 days, UK firms could face the biggest change to their terms of trade in over a generation, without the information and clarity they need to navigate their forward course.

“There is a very real risk that a lack of clear, actionable information from Government will leave firms, their people and their communities hung out to dry.

“Even those companies trying their hardest to get ready are still in the dark on important matters from contracts through to customs. Many others, who took the decision to wait for the political process to conclude before acting, would face sudden and costly adjustments if a deal is not reached.

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“It is little wonder that many firms have been holding back on investment, stockpiling, and even opening offices and moving operations and jobs elsewhere.

“The imperative remains to avoid a messy and disorderly exit on March 29, but businesses need answers they can base decisions on, no matter the outcome. The lack of clear, precise answers is now causing real damage to many businesses, and to the wider economy.”

The BCC also wanted to know if they will be able to fly people and goods between the UK and EU after the end of March and whether there will be any import tariffs.

A Government spokesman said: “The best way to support our economy, protects jobs and provide certainty for businesses and individuals as we leave is to back the deal we have agreed with the EU.

“We are focused on securing the necessary changes to ensure the deal passes through Parliament.”