200,000 firms that trade with the EU are NOT ready for no deal Brexit

Higher food prices, an extra £13bn in costs for 240,000 businesses and huge passport queues: Government releases damning no deal Brexit report just hours after May insists UK can ‘make a success out of crashing out without a deal’

  • Government published a report on the readiness of Britain for no deal tonight 
  • It paints a bleak picture and said 200,000 firms trading with the EU are not ready
  • Citizens have ignored warnings to check their passports and driving licences
  • Warns of panic buying fuelling shortages of fresh food imported from the EU 
  • May admitted today it was an ‘honest’ report but that Britain would be successful

The Government admitted 200,000 firms that trade with the EU are not ready for a no deal Brexit tonight in a damning report with just 31 days to exit day.

The study from the Brexit department also found citizens are ignoring no deal warnings and failing to make sure they are ready for a no deal.

It said no deal would cause delays at the border – potentially meaning shortages and prices rises for some food, particularly fresh produce not in season in Britain.

The report warns panic buying could fuel shortages in foods that are shipped across the Channel.  

Ahead of the publication of tonight’s report Theresa May admitted it would be an ‘honest assessment’ of the ‘serious challenges’ facing Britain after no deal.

But she told MPs: ‘I believe that if we have to, we will ultimately make a success of a No Deal.’ 

The Prime Minister made a screeching U-turn today and admitted no deal could only happen if MPs voted for it – and said MPs could demand a delay to Brexit instead. 

Independent Group MP Chuka Umunna said tonight’s report showed the ‘disastrous’ impact no deal would have on Britain. 

Ahead of the publication of tonight’s report Theresa May (pictured today in the Commons) admitted it would be an ‘honest assessment’ of the ‘serious challenges’ facing Britain after no deal

Independent Group MP Chuka Umunna (pictured yesterday in Westminster) said tonight’s report showed the ‘disastrous’ impact of no deal on Britain 

  • Brexit CAN be delayed, May tells MPs: PM bows to Remainer…

    ‘Voters won’t have it’: Corbyn warned backing a second…

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The shock Government paper took a swipe at businesses trading with the EU, saying just a sixth of firms trading with EU states had obtained a vital document.

What does the new report on no deal say?  

The Government tonight published a report on Britain’s no deal preparedness with just 31 days to go. It says: 

  • Just 40,000 of 240,000 exporting businesses that trade only with the EU are ready
  • Businesses face an extra £13billion in costs as they deal with customs controls for the first time 
  • Citizens have ignored warnings to get ready and could face huge queues at airports 
  • Fresh food imported from the EU could see shortages and price rises
  • Panic buying could make the situation even worse 
  • EU tariffs could add 70 per cent to the cost of imported beef and 45 per cent to the cost of lamb 
  • Northern Ireland would be hit harder and for longer by no deal chaos 
  • Major industries – particularly car making – would hit hard by delays in the arrival of parts amid queues at Dover 

After Brexit they will require an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number to continue to export as the UK will become an external so-called ‘third party’ state.

In a damning statement the paper lays the situation bare, saying: ‘As an EORI number registration is one of the most basic and straightforward parts of the process most businesses would need to undertake to prepare for no deal, this is assumed to be a generous indicator of overall readiness.

‘As of February 2019 there had only been around 40,000 registrations for an EORI number, against an estimate of around 240,000 EU-only trading businesses.

‘In practice, the UK’s approach is based on, in the short-term, allowing hauliers to pass through the border without stopping, but they would be stopped if taking goods into France without the right paperwork.

‘The lack of preparation for EU controls – of which this is an example – greatly increases the probability of disruption.’

However it also said that the Government can process up to 11,000 EORI applications per day, so there is time for firms to act before March 29. 

Consumers could face a bun fight over fresh fruit and vegetables as shortages of some foods kicks off a surge in prices – and are made worse by greedy consumers stockpiling them, the paper revealed.

It said no deal would cause delays at the border – potentially meaning shortages and prices rises for some food, particularly fresh produce not in season in Britain (pictured are lorries queuing at the Port of Dover) 

There will not be an ‘overall’ food shortage, it revealed, with less than a tenth of ‘foods items’ ‘directly affected by any delays’ across the Channel – but there could be shortages or prices rises on imported goods 

Some 30 per cent of UK food comes from the EU and it added: ‘Although our food supply is diverse, resilient, and sourced from a wide variety of countries, the potential disruption to trade across the Short Channel Crossings would lead to reduced availability and choice of products.’

There will not be an ‘overall’ food shortage, it revealed, with less than a tenth of ‘foods items’ ‘directly affected by any delays’ across the Channel.

But it continued: ‘However, at the time of year we will be leaving the EU, the UK is particularly reliant on the Short Channel Crossings for fresh fruit and vegetables.

‘In the absence of other action from Government, some food prices are likely to increase, and there is a risk that consumer behaviour could exacerbate, or create, shortages in this scenario.

‘As of February 2019, many businesses in the food supply industry are unprepared for a no deal scenario.’ 

Tonight’s report warns Britons could be stuck in queues at airports as many have failed to complete basic ‘administrative tasks’ to prepare for a no-deal Brexit

Car manufacturing could also be hit as just-in-time supply chains are hurt by delays at the border (pictured is the Nissan plant n Swindon facing closure) 

The paper also took a swipe at UK citizens for failing to complete basic ‘administrative tasks’ to prepare for a no-deal Brexit – because they are not worried it will happen.

It cited passport renewal, applying for an international driving permit and obtaining a ‘car insurance green card’ as things which people either visiting or living in EU states needed to complete.

It said: ‘As of February 2019, despite a public information campaign encouraging the public to seek out the Government’s advice on preparing for a ‘no deal’, noticeable behaviour change has not been witnessed at any significant scale.

‘Based on DExEU survey data from January 2019, 55% of UK adults did not expect to be affected by a no deal exit.

‘Government judges that the reason for this lack of action is often because a no deal scenario is not seen as a sufficiently credible outcome to take action or outlay expenditure.’

The Government document stated that the introduction of tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade in the case of a no-deal Brexit can be expected to have a ‘very severe’ impact on some UK industries.

The EU would introduce tariffs of around 70% on beef and 45% on lamb exports and 10% on motor vehicles. The impact on UK businesses ‘would be compounded by the challenges of even modest reductions in flow at the border’, said the document.

The document warned that ‘the cumulative impact from a ‘no deal’ scenario is expected to be more severe in Northern Ireland than in Great Britain, and to last for longer’

It was ‘impossible to accurately predict the ability of businesses to adapt’, but the risk of no deal is ‘of major concern’ for the car industry, both because of tariffs and disruption to just-in-time supply chains.

The document stated that ‘the cumulative impact from a ‘no deal’ scenario is expected to be more severe in Northern Ireland than in Great Britain, and to last for longer’.

It warned: ‘In a no-deal scenario there is an expectation of disruption to closely interwoven supply chains and increasing costs that would affect the viability of many businesses across Northern Ireland.

‘There is a risk that businesses in Northern Ireland will not have sufficient time to prepare. This could result in business failure, and/or relocation to Ireland with knock-on consequences for the Northern Ireland economy and unemployment.’

Independent Group MP Chuka Umunna said: ‘These documents – which The Independent Group of MPs have forced this Government to publish – paint a disastrous picture of the catastrophe which would befall our country if there is a no-deal Brexit.

‘In light of what she knows, it is utterly irresponsible for the Prime Minister to keep a no-deal Brexit on the table given the extreme damage it will do.

‘These papers set out how food prices will rise, we may see panic buying, there will be severe disruption at the border, and jobs and livelihoods would immediately be put at risk.’

Remainer ministers lashed over ‘kamikaze tactics’ in furious Cabinet row over May’s screeching U-turn that Brexit CAN be delayed by two months if her deal fails 

A furious Cabinet row saw Remainer ministers lashed for ‘kamikaze’ tactics today as Theresa May set out a screeching U-turn and admitted Brexit could be delayed. 

Amber Rudd, Greg Clark and David Gauke were slammed for going public with their demands for no deal Brexit to be ruled out in a newspaper article on Saturday. 

Chief Secretary Liz Truss slammed the ‘kamikaze’ approach while  Commons leader Andrea Leadsom reportedly shouted in anger, the Spectator reported.

The brazen defiance of Mrs May’s insistence that Brexit cannot be delayed and no deal must be on the table came ahead of the PM abandoning both positions today.

After briefing her Cabinet and with negotiations deadlocked in Brussels, the PM told the Commons no deal would only happen with ‘explicit consent’ and it will get a chance to extend Article 50 within a fortnight.  

Mrs May tried to soothe angry Eurosceptics by insisting that a delay could only be a ‘one-off’ and was not something she wanted to do. She stressed she will never cancel the Brexit process altogether, arguing that the UK could make a ‘success’ of no deal if it has to. 

But the concession leaves Tory hardliners with a stark choice of either backing Mrs May’s plan in the next showdown, which will happen by March 12, or accepting an almost inevitable delay to the UK’s departure. 

Under the new timetable, a vote effectively ruling out no deal would then be staged on March 13, and a vote on an extension the following day – March 14. Mrs May refused to say whether the government would back the delay. 

Without revoking Article 50 no delay to Brexit can last forever – meaning MPs would have to agree a deal eventually. Unless Britain takes part in European Parliament elections in May, a delay cannot extend past the end of June.   

Brexiteer ringleader Mr Rees-Mogg warned a delay could not be cover for cancelling Brexit – insisting it would be a ‘grievous error’ that would ‘undermine democracy’. 

On the Remain side, Tory Nick Boles and Labour’s Yvette Cooper questioned whether the PM could be trusted to abide by her word – but this afternoon abandoned their plan to change the law to force a vote on delaying Brexit if there is no deal.  

Theresa May is scrambling to avert mass resignations by ministers who are determined to rule out no deal in crunch votes tomorrow

With negotiations deadlocked in Brussels and the clock running down, the PM (pictured in the Commons today) told the Commons no deal would only happen with ‘explicit consent’ and it will get a chance to extend Article 50 within a fortnight

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the PM was continuing to run down the clock on Brexit with just a month until exit day 

The PM again drew a blank after a frantic round of Brexit talks with EU counterparts at a summit in Egypt over the past two days.

What will happen next in the unfolding Brexit drama? 

February 27

Votes are being held on Theresa May’s approach to Brexit – although not on her deal, which is still being reworked.

Downing Street is trying to head off a Tory Remainer mutiny by promising MPs will get another set of votes within a fortnight, with the potential for Article 50 to be extended.

March 12

Theresa May has said a so-called ‘meaningful vote’ on her revised Brexit deal will take place by this date.

March 13  

If Mrs May’s deal is defeated or does not get put to the House, there will be a vote on whether to go ahead with no deal. 

March 14

Assuming MPs do not agree to go ahead with no deal, there will be a vote on whether to delay Brexit by a couple of months. 

March 21-22

The PM will attend a scheduled EU summit in Brussels where any agreement approved by the Commons could be signed off – as well as any potential Brexit delay.

11pm, March 29

The UK is due to leave the EU with or without a deal, unless the Article 50 process is extended with approval from the bloc’s leaders, or revoked to cancel Brexit altogether. 

EU council chief Donald Tusk heaped pressure on the PM by urging her to take the ‘rational solution’ of an extension. 

One proposal favoured in Brussels is a 21-month delay, which would essentially replace the transition period.

However, the PM suggested a postponement would only be possible for around two months, up to the European Parliamentary elections. 

Mrs May said: ‘Let me be clear, I do not want to see Article 50 extended.

‘Our absolute focus should be on working to get a deal and leaving on 29 March.

‘An extension beyond the end of June would mean the UK taking part in the European Parliament elections. 

‘What kind of message would that send to the more than 17 million people who voted to leave the EU nearly three years ago now? 

‘And the House should be clear that a short extension – not beyond the end of June – would almost certainly have to be a one-off. 

‘If we had not taken part in the European Parliament elections, it would be extremely difficult to extend again, so it would create a much sharper cliff edge in a few months’ time.

‘An extension cannot take no deal off the table. The only way to do that is to revoke Article 50, which I shall not do, or agree a deal.’ 

Mrs May refused to say how she would order her MPs to vote on March 13 and 14 despite emotional pleas from MPs.

Remain supporter Labour’s Jess Phillips said she felt ‘so enraged’ about the ‘complete and utter lack of bravery to do the right thing for our country’,  

Will Brexit EVER happen? As MPs prepare for another crucial round of votes and second referendum talk mounts, here is how a crucial few weeks for Brexit could unfold 

MPs are voting again on Brexit tomorrow night as the countdown to exit day gets ever louder.

After a raft of ministers have warned the votes are high noon to take no deal off the table Theresa May finally shifted her position today. 

In a mammoth U-turn she promised if she has not got her deal agreed by MPs on March 12, she will allow the Commons to vote first on accepting no deal on March 13 and then delaying Brexit on March 14.

Whether it is enough to stem a rebellion inside Government will only be known for certain tomorrow night.

But with just 32 days to go it sets up yet another crunch vote on March 12.   

MPs vote again on Brexit tomorrow night amid mounting talk of a second referendum and while Theresa May (pictured yesterday in Egypt) tries to renegotiate her deal

What is happening tomorrow? 

MPs are voting again on the state of the Brexit negotiations. May is expected to ask them to endorse her plan to renegotiate the backstop.

It is not a new ‘meaningful vote’ to approve or reject the Brexit deal. 

Backbench MPs are likely to put forward amendments containing alternative plans – but whatever happens, the stage is set for another showdown on March 12.

This is the third time since the ‘meaningful vote’ on January 15 MPs have voted on Brexit. May promised the votes would happen as a concession to rebels while she negotiated to stop them taking no deal off the table.  

What amendments might there be? 

Formal amendments have not yet been tabled but they are expected to include:  

Will any of them carry? 

Amendments for delaying Brexit or a second referendum could pass – but all options look likely to depend on what happens at the second meaningful vote by March 12.

May’s concessions today on votes on March 12, 13 and 14 make it less likely any of the rival plans will pass tomorrow. 

The Corbyn and Blackford amendments will definitely fail.  

What is the second meaningful vote? 

To get her deal into law, May has to win a specific vote approving her deal. She has tried once before on January 15 and lost by 230 votes.

The PM has promised this will happen no later than March 12. If she wins then, she has said Brexit should happen on time and the Government will scramble to get the necessary laws in place. 

What happens if May loses the second vote? 

May has told MPs they will then have to choose between delaying Brexit for further negotiations or leaving the EU without a deal if the reject the deal by March 12.

On March 13, there will be a vote for MPs to say yes or no to no deal.

If they say no, on March 14 MPs will be asked to say yes or no to delaying Brexit.

If the House also votes no to delay, backbench MPs – backed by Jeremy Corbyn and most Labour MPs – will probably try to push for a second referendum.  

Why do people say there needs to be a second referendum?

Theresa May’s Brexit deal has no majority in Parliament – and it is not clear any other deal has a majority either, even if one could be negotiated.

Passing the question back to voters is seen by some as a way to end the impasse and give a clear instruction to politicians on what to do.

Some campaigners also say the 2016 referendum was not an informed choice because too many of the implications of Leave were unknown. 

Britain’s view on whether it should Leave or Remain in the EU is little changed in the more than three years since the referendum. Pictured are the dozens of polls since June 23, 2016  

What do critics think?

Many people – led by the Prime Minister herself – say a new vote on Brexit would betray the people who voted Leave in 2016. They insist there was a clear order from the public to Leave the EU and politicians must follow it, working out the details for themselves.

Unionists also complain that accepting a new referendum on Brexit would pave the way for another referendum on Scottish independence, threatening the future of the UK. 

Some politicians also feel it would simply reopen the wounds from the 2016 battle without really deciding anything more clearly.  

What needs to happen for a referendum to happen?

Parliament would need to pass a new law for a referendum to be held. This process alone would take weeks and would likely be very controversial.

Before that can even happen, for political reasons there would probably have to be some kind of moment creating a ‘mandate’ for a new referendum as it is something neither of the main parties promised at the last election.

This might be a simple vote of MPs after Mrs May’s deal has been rejected. The Government could call such a vote at any time. Labour also has some opportunities to call a vote – though winning such a vote would have less power.

It could even be a whole general election where one or more sides puts a new referendum in their manifesto. 

What would the question and be who decides? 

Nobody knows for sure – and this is probably the hardest question of all.

Some say it should be a simple repeat of last time, with Leave or Remain on the ballot paper. Others say it should be Remain versus Mrs May’s Brexit deal.

Others advocate a two stage referendum – between Remain and Leave, followed by Mrs May’s deal versus No Deal if Leave wins. 

Still others say there could be multiple questions on the ballot paper, possible using a ranking system known as alternative vote.

The Electoral Commission would make a recommendation and MPs would make the final decision on what the question would be. 

As MPs wrestle with Brexit inside Parliament outside protesters from both sides are picketing the gates of the Commons (pictured today on Parliament Square) 

Would exit have to be delayed from March 29? 

Yes. On the shortest timescale imaginable, a referendum would take almost six months from the point the decision was taken – something which has not happened yet. Exit day is just 32 days away.

How long does it take to call and fight a referendum? 

There is no fixed schedule but former Cabinet minister Justine Greening has set out a 22 week timetable – just under six months start to finish

This assumes about 11 weeks to pass the necessary laws and another 11 weeks for the campaign – both a preliminary period to set up formal campaigns on each side and then a main short campaign.

This would in theory allow a referendum by late 2019 – more than three years after the last one. 

Lots of factors could cause delays and short of sweeping political agreement on the rules of a campaign almost no way to speed up the process. 

Would the result be any more decisive?

Probably not. Unlike last time, the referendum law could make the result legally binding and the question could be more specific than last time.

But polls suggest the country remains just as divided as in 2016 – suggesting the result could be just as close as the 52% to 48% Leave win next time. 

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