No-deal Brexit could batter UK businesses like never before


One of the biggest surveys of business intentions since the EU referendum has found that nearly two-thirds of firms still aren’t preparing for Brexit – and in the event of a ‘no deal’ outcome many would cut investment and recruitment plans.

With just six months to go before the UK leaves the EU, the British Chambers of Commerce is calling for UK ministers to redouble their efforts to reach an agreement with the EU – and ensure a transition period that could help firms prepare for change and prevent a slump in both investment and recruitment. The leading business group presses the need for clarity and precision so that firms can plan for the future with a degree of confidence.

  • A fifth of businesses surveyed (21%) will cut investment if there is ‘no deal’, 20% will move part or all of their business to the EU and 18% will cut recruitment – but in the event of a status quo transition these numbers fall dramatically
  • 62% of firms still haven’t completed a Brexit risk assessment

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), in partnership with independent business funder, Bibby Financial Services (BFS), has conducted one of the biggest surveys of business opinion since the referendum, amassing the views of over 2,500 firms from across the UK.

No deal’ will have real business consequences

Larger firms and those who are internationally active are the most exposed to the ramifications of ‘no deal’. 28% of firms with over 50 employees and 24% of those who export or import internationally say they would cut investment plans.

The fact that one in five businesses (20%) say in a ‘no deal’ scenario they would move part or all of their business to the EU27 is an important wake-up call – both on the need to agree an orderly exit from the EU and on the need for the UK government to enhance incentives for investment.

Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said;

“Businesses are clear that reaching a deal with the EU, which addresses the future terms of trade and provides certainty, must be the government’s number one priority.

“Our evidence is clear – failure to reach a political agreement would have real-world consequences, with significant decreases in both investment and recruitment. Larger firms and those active in international trade would suffer the most from a disorderly and sudden exit from the EU, but there will be impacts across the board.

“Most concerning of all, a materially significant number of businesses are considering moving part or all of their operations to the EU in the event of ‘no deal’. Government must act urgently and decisively to get a comprehensive deal done. They also need to use the levers they have, such as the upcoming Budget, to ensure they provide the right conditions for growth at home.”