British business groups plead for extra time for Brexit

by Jonathan Adams
European Union

The changes that Brexit entails mean UK companies have a lot of work to do to adjust to their new relationship with the EU

British business groups pleaded with the government to extend the time they have to prepare for the nation’s departure from the European Union after leaders from both sides agreed to continue talks.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday gave negotiators another shot at reaching a deal on the terms of trade before the Brexit transition period ends on Dec 31.

Lobby groups responded with relief at the prospect that the sides may yet avoid a no-deal divorce, which would mean the application of costly tariffs and quotas.

The raft of changes that Brexit nevertheless entails – from licensing standards to paperwork requirements – mean UK companies still have a lot of work ahead to adjust to their new relationship with the nation’s biggest trading partner.

Government must move with even more determination to avoid the looming cliff edge of January 1st, Tony Danker, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, said in a statement.

Measures must include “negotiated grace periods to allow firms to adjust to either deal or no deal.”

UK and EU negotiators will try to forge a deal over the next few days, and if talks make progress, it is possible an agreement could be struck by the middle of the week, people on both sides said.

Still, the extent of the preparation needed has spurred business lobbies to ask the government not to rush them.

Though Britain voted to leave the EU more than four years ago, trade talks have come down to the wire as politicians haggle over key issues like fisheries.

Companies, meanwhile, have to try to adapt for life beyond Dec 31 without knowing the fundamental rules of engagement.

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