Yesterday afternoon, the UK Government lost another Brexit vote in Parliament when MPs voted down a motion of support for the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May’s Brexit negotiating plans. These were the same plans which MPs had supported only 2 weeks ago! Whilst this was a pretty meaningless, procedural vote it doesn’t strengthen the UK’s hand in continued negotiations with Brussels.
It is exactly three months since the Withdrawal Agreement and political statement on the future trading relationship were agreed in principle with the EU. It is also now a month since the Brexit deal was rejected by MPs in Parliament. Today, there are just six weeks left before the UK is due to leave the EU.
Nothing has changed, except that we are one more week closer to Brexit and once again the prospect of a No Deal Brexit has increased.
The key issue remains that most MPs want changes made to the current Northern Ireland ‘backstop’ provisions. See ‘what the backstop’ means here.
It could go down to the wire at the end of March. The most likely outcomes remain either a No Deal (cliff edge Brexit at 11pm on 29 March) or a last minute deal on the Withdrawal Agreement that includes an extension to Article 50 and allows some details to be ironed out.
We now understand that HMRC has around 3,000 people working on No Deal preparations and the UK government is issuing updated No Deal guidance documents on an almost daily basis. All organisations should pay careful attention to this: if you have not done so already, activate your No Deal preparations now.
What does this mean for business and other organisations?
- Don’t wait for the politicians to reach an agreement. By the time this political deadlock breaks, it will be too late to make contingency plans for 29 March. So…
- If you can, plan for all eventualities. If you haven’t already done so, it is vital to do some scenario planning, assessing how the different options impact on your organisation, your markets and suppliers. We can help and there are more things you can do whatever stage you are at in your Brexit planning.
- Identify opportunities that uncertainty and disruption in the market create: where are your competitive advantages; how can your goods or services help others navigate this uncertain time; are there opportunities to increase exports in the rest of the world or acquire undervalued assets?
- If nothing else, plan for No Deal: and work out when you need to implement plans to ensure ongoing business continuity.
- Get match fit: focus on the business basics: cashflow; retaining and attracting talent; sweating your assets; meeting customer needs; and removing unnecessary costs
It is not yet too late to start.
We have been working with clients from a wide range of sectors on covering all aspects of Brexit planning, such as developing, stress testing and implementing Brexit plans; reporting on Brexit risks and opportunities; assessing Brexit impact on deals; Brexit-proofing data protection; supporting relocation of operations; getting your tax and customs Brexit ready; helping you expand in new markets; preparing for market turbulence by reducing costs; and developing your employer proposition.