Commenting on the release of the UK government’s long-awaited White Paper on the future UK-EU relationship, Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:
“At last, businesses have a more comprehensive understanding of the Government's aspirations for the UK's future relationship with the European Union.
“This vision should not have taken two years and three weeks to emerge, but it is nevertheless a welcome starting point for businesses.
"Momentum and pace are now needed to translate ambition into answers to the real-world, practical questions that businesses face. Even with the welcome direction of travel in the White Paper, companies still don't know how they'll be paying VAT, how they can move people between offices, or whether goods will get across borders with a minimum of fuss. It is incumbent on the two sides to work pragmatically and productively on the nuts-and-bolts detail of the future relationship over the coming weeks, drawing on business experience and expertise.
"Time is short - and for businesses, it's results that count."
Following publication of the White Paper, the leading business organisation maintained 22 'red-rated' and 2 'amber-rated' issues on its Business Brexit Risk Register, which brings together the 24 top questions being asked by businesses across the UK. On this, Marshall added:
“Businesses still need clear and detailed answers on many of the practical, real-world questions they face. Many of these answers can only emerge through negotiations - so it’s time for the two sides to crack on and get to a deal. And we have said many times, and will say again, that the UK government must deliver clarity wherever the answers to business questions are entirely within the UK's own control."
The British Chambers of Commerce also urged the UK Government to step up preparations for all eventualities - including 'no deal' scenarios -- to ensure that businesses have clarity on how the UK would operate its borders, immigration system and regulations in the event of a breakdown in negotiations. Adam Marshall said:
“Firms need clear guidance from the UK government on preparations for all eventualities, so that they know how critical systems and borders would operate in the unwelcome scenario where a comprehensive deal cannot be reached."