Businesses slam government’s ‘atrocious’ handling of Brexit

Sep 30, 2019

A TOWN’S business community has launched a withering attack on the government’s handling of the UK’s exit from the European Union, branding it “atrocious” and opining that MPs “are not fulfilling the decision of the referendum”.

Almost three in four businesses in Wellingborough are more concerned about a delay in finalising Brexit than leaving with or without a deal, according to the results of an online poll organised by the town’s Chamber of Commerce.

Businesspeople were invited to answer five questions as part of a Brexit survey posted on the Wellingborough Chamber of Commerce website, with 71% saying further delays to the October 31 deadline being of more concern than leaving with or without a deal.

Concerned business owners revealed a lack of trust in the government to look after their interests in the Brexit process, with one respondent labelling leading politicians “self-serving traitors”.

Another claimed Parliament had “obstructed the will of the people” but another added: “Ultimately, Parliament has voted to control the outcome, which is a much safer option than leaving it in the hands of the current government.”

Wellingborough Chamber of Commerce president Simon Toseland said: “The government’s handling of Brexit has been atrocious. What is even more concerning is that this feels like it may have been by design.” 

Simon Toseland, president of Wellingborough Chamber of Commerce.

Research by the British Chambers of Commerce suggests that a high number of UK firms are not ready for a no deal Brexit. Businesses have consistently called on the government to avoid a messy and disorderly exit but in light of the political turmoil and relentless uncertainty, clearer and more consistent information is needed to help them prepare, Mr Toseland said.

“The survey provided the opportunity for our members to voice their concerns over the current state of the government. It has been interesting to see that the majority of people just want them to get on with the job so that plans can be put in place for the future of business following our exit from the EU.”

The survey revealed concerns about a hike in fuel and food prices if Britain was to leave without a deal. “Certain goods will be in short supply,” said one business owner. “We may be forced to increase our charges which we are very reluctant to do as many of our clients are on a low, fixed income.”

In response to whether parliament could be trusted to look after the interests of business:

 “The referendum did not ask how to leave; the vote was for leave and it is more damaging for the country failing to fulfil the result. Once we know how we are leaving, businesses can then plan based on that scenario. 

“It is shocking that after three years highly paid MPs cannot agree on a basis to leave.”

On whether European businesses want to continue to trade freely with the UK without politically enforced tariffs: “I think EU countries are bullying the UK to stay, the UK being one of the largest contributors,” said one respondent. “Some countries will want us to remain due to money they receive, larger countries will want us to remain so they do not have to cover our contributions.

“Once it is confirmed that we are leaving, EU countries will likely be happy to trade on a tariff-free basis as the UK imports more than it exports to EU countries so they will not want their trade affected.”

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