Exclusive: Thousands Of Businesses Not Fully Prepared For No-Deal Brexit, Official Figures Show

Less than a third of companies that trade with the EU have registered to continue doing business from November if the UK leaves without a deal.

Less than a third of British companies that trade with the EU are fully prepared to continue doing business if there is a no-deal Brexit, official figures show.

Just 72,000 of the 244,000 British firms that only trade with the EU have signed up to a registration scheme which is required if they are to keep operating if the UK leaves without a deal on October 31.

Boris Johnson, the Tory leadership frontrunner and favourite for next prime minister has committed to take Britain out of the EU with or without a deal on the Halloween deadline.

But Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said the Treasury figures showed “how unprepared we are” and how “dangerous” a no-deal Brexit would be for the economy.

The Treasury makes clear that firms that only trade with the EU will need to get an economic operator registration and identification (EORI) number from HM Revenue and Customs to continue doing business in the event of no deal.

The process for registration is “free and very quick”, taking only around 10 minutes, minister Mel Stride told Brake in response to a written parliamentary question in April.

“It shows how unprepared we are and how dangerous it will be for our economy”

But after uncovering updated figures which revealed just 72,000 EORI numbers had been issued between December and June 16, Brake said: “With Boris Johnson looking set to walk into Number 10, his threat to force a dangerous no-deal on the UK looks increasingly likely to become reality.

“These figures underline why MPs must do all we can to block a disastrous no deal.

“The fact that still less than a third of British businesses have taken action so they can continue trading in a no-deal Brexit shows how unprepared we are and how dangerous it will be for our economy.

“No deal threatens people’s livelihoods across the UK and that is why the Liberal Democrats will do everything in our power to stop it. However, it must not be forgotten that any version of Brexit will leave the UK worse off and the only real way out of this chaos is a People’s Vote, with the option to stay in the EU”.

Earlier, Johnson supporter Andrea Leadsom said the Tory leadership favourite does not want to leave the EU without a deal, but to use the threat of a no-deal Brexit to get a better deal.

Even if Johnson fails to get a better deal, which seems likely given Brussels’ unwillingness to reopen the withdrawal agreement, Leadsom claimed there was “no such thing” as a no-deal Brexit as both sides have taken measures to mitigate against disruption

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “In my view there is no such thing as no-deal Brexit at this point.

“The reason for that is that in the run-up to March 29 when there was also the possibility that we might have left so-called with no deal, what that meant is without the withdrawal agreement.

“There are in all circumstances deals - the United Kingdom and the European Union, individual member states, have put in place all sorts of measures around UK and EU citizens rights, around transportation passports and so on and so on.”

It came as Brake confirmed the Lib Dems would back a cross-party plan promoted by Labour’s Margaret Beckett and Tory Dominic Grieve to try and block no deal.

The pair have tabled an amendment which if passed on Tuesday would stop the government spending money in certain areas in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Brake said: “With Johnson issuing blood-curdling cries that he will inflict a no deal on the UK, regardless of whether it is opposed by a majority of MPs, rational MPs must use every opportunity to block his reckless impulses.”


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