Lobby group Maritime UK has urged the British government and European Union to extend the Article 50 process if a Brexit deal is not agreed by October.
According to a recent survey commissioned by Maritime UK, 66% of UK business leaders think a ‘no-deal’ scenario is now likely, with just half of them saying that they have made preparations for such an outcome.
Maritime UK, whose members facilitate 95% of UK trade, is calling on all parties to get behind the British prime minister’s recently introduced Chequers accord, which seeks softer Brexit terms, and for the European Union in turn to show pragmatism.
With half of business leaders questioned having not made preparations for a no deal, Maritime UK believes there is not enough time to prepare for crashing out of the EU.
Of the 507 business leaders polled, more than half (58%) supported the agreement reached by the cabinet at the recent Chequers summit, which includes a new UK-EU free trade area and a commitment to replacing the free movement of people with a mobility framework.
The survey found that the major no-deal concerns for business leaders are increased costs and supply chain disruption, including delays at ports.
Welcoming the survey’s publication, David Dingle, chairman of Maritime UK, said: “Business leaders from across the economy support the maritime sector’s call for a pragmatic Brexit deal that enables frictionless trade. We cannot accept that no deal is better than any deal. A worrying number of business leaders from all sectors and parts of the country now believe a no deal is the most likely outcome. If we fail to agree a deal by October, it is in the interest of both the UK and EU to extend the Article 50 process. Failing to secure a deal will mean delays and disruption at ports like Dover, Holyhead and Portsmouth, but equally at EU ports including Zeebrugge, Calais and Dublin.”