In a strongly-worded statement, the UK's leading business groups are calling on politicians to prevent a disorderly no-deal Brexit on 29th March 2019.
The five groups are: the Institute of Directors (IoD), the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and EEF, the manufacturers organisation.
Together, these bodies represent hundreds of thousands of businesses across the UK, employing millions of people. A joint statement has been released by the FSB's national chairman Mike Cherry, the BCC's director general Adam Marshall, the CBI's director general Carolyn Fairbairn, ceo of EEF Stephen Phipson and the IoD director general Stephen Martin.
The leaders of these five organisations have agreed that a so-called "managed" no-deal is not a credible option. Their statement said: "The lack of progress in Westminster means that the risk of a 'no-deal' Brexit is rising. Businesses of all sizes are reaching the point of no return, with many now putting in place contingency plans that are a significant drain of time and money.
"Firms are pausing or diverting investment that should be boosting productivity, innovation, jobs and pay into stockpiling goods or materials, diverting cross border trade and moving offices, factories and therefore jobs and tax revenues out of the UK. While many companies are actively preparing for a 'no deal' scenario, there are also hundreds of thousands who have yet to start - and cannot be expected to be ready in such a short space of time.
"All this activity stems from the growing risk of leaving the EU on 29th March without a deal. With just 100 days to go, the suggestion that 'no-deal' can be 'managed' is not a credible proposition. Businesses would face massive new customs costs and tariffs. Disruption at ports could destroy carefully built supply chains … As a result of the lack of progress, the Government is understandably now in a place where it must step up no-deal planning, but it is clear there is simply not enough time to prevent severe dislocation and disruption in just 100 days.
"This is not where we should be. The responsibility to find a way forward now rests directly with 650 MPs in Parliament. Nobody wants to prolong the uncertainty, but everyone must remember that businesses and communities need time to adapt to future changes."
The statement concludes: "As the UK's leading business groups, we are asking MPs from all parties to return to their constituencies over Christmas and talk to their local business communities. We hope that they will listen and remember that when they return to Parliament, the future course of our economy will be in their hands."