Only 16 per cent of UK businesses trust the government to manage Brexit effectively, according to polling shared exclusively with City A.M.
Just over 40 per cent of firms said the coronavirus pandemic had derailed their Brexit planning, the polling commissioned by logistics firm One World Express showed.
The UK and EU gave themselves less than a year to negotiate a free-trade agreement before the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December.
Talks have been fraught, however, and made more difficult by the coronavirus pandemic. The two sides remain at odds over fishing and state aid policy, although negotiations resumed this week.
Just 11 per cent of businesses thought the UK and EU will agree a trade deal before the transition expires, according to the polling, which was carried out by market research agency Opinium.
It found that 43 per cent of firms said Brexit poses more of a long-term risk than Covid-19. The polling spoke to 534 decision-makers at companies.
Government says firms ‘need to prepare’ for Brexit
One World Express chief executive Atul Bhakta said the pandemic had “understandably” consumer companies’ attention this year.
“However, as the end of the transition period nears, it is clear that business leaders are also having significant concerns regarding Brexit.”
The polling echoed worries expressed last week by the Institute of Directors business group. Its survey found almost half of businesses were not fully prepared for the end of the transition period.
If Britain crashes out with no deal, it would mean higher tariffs for some sectors. For example, cars going to the EU would be taxed at 10 per cent. It could also mean more paperwork for businesses.
A government spokesperson said: “We are leaving the EU single market and customs union at the end of the year… This will bring a number guaranteed changes for which we all need to prepare.
“To make sure the country is ready, we have published the border operating model to give clarity to traders, provided £84m in grants to grow the customs intermediary sector and announced £705m in funding for jobs, infrastructure and technology at the border.”