Boris Johnson will speak to business leaders this week to urge them to ramp up preparations for the UK’s exit from the EU single market and customs union next year as the prospect of a no-deal Brexit begins to look more likely.
HM Revenue and Customs will contact 200,00 traders who deal with the EU to set out the new customs and tax legislation after Brexit.
It comes as a part of the government’s new “Time is Running Out” advertising campaign that aims to inform businesses of the changes in customs procedures from next year.
It comes just days after Johnson said the UK was walking away from EU trade talks, considerably raising the chances of a no-deal Brexit.
“Make no mistake, there are changes coming in just 75 days and time is running out for businesses to act,” Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said.
“It is on all of us to put in the work now so that we can embrace the new opportunities available to an independent trading nation with control of its own borders, territorial waters and laws.”
British Chambers of Commerce director general Adam Marshall hit out at the government ad campaign, saying it needed to get a trade deal with the EU.
“Facing the triple threat of a resurgent coronavirus, tightening restrictions and a disorderly end to the transition period, it is little wonder businesses are struggling to prepare,” he said.
“Many firms will be tired of posturing, cliff edges and deadlines, while others are still grappling with fundamental challenges as a result of the pandemic.
“More businesses will undoubtedly step up preparations for change over the coming weeks, but many are still facing unanswered Brexit questions that have a big impact on their day to day operations.”
The Prime Minister said on Friday that he was finished negotiating with Brussels, and that the UK would leave the EU’s single market and customs union without a deal unless the bloc made key last minute concessions.
Both sides had set an end of October deadline to get the deal done in order to give businesses time to adjust to new conditions from 1 January next year.
Johnson’s comments were seen by many as a last-ditch bluff to extract concessions from the EU on fisheries arrangements – one of the largest areas of disagreement.
Gove, who has been until now a leading voice in the cabinet against no-deal, said today that it was the EU that “effectively ended” trade talks this week by not agreeing to “intensify” negotiations.
He told Sky News: “It was the case that we were making progress, then the EU retreated from that.
“At the EU Council last week the original commitment that was in their draft communique to ‘intensify talks’, the word ‘intensify’ was taken out.
“Over the past two weeks we haven’t seen from the EU the production of the legal texts required for there to be progress and as one of our negotiators pointed out, it was more like performance art than it was a dedicated attempt to reach a conclusion.”