Just a few weeks to go to the end of the year, "Time is running out", the message from government. Businesses are not yet prepared for the new trade deal with the EU. No surprise really, great uncertainty still remains about the shape of the deal, let alone, the detail within.
Companies are scrambling to get ready ahead of the deadline on January 1st, without any clear idea of the basis on which they will trade, with European partners.
"They won't give us a deal like Canada" bemoans the Prime Minister. Hardly surprising, the nearest Canadian fishing grounds are in British Columbia. That's a haul too far, even for the itinerant fisherman of France and Spain. The industry remains a fish bone of contention, despite the marginal contribution to UK GDP.
"We must prepare for an "Australia-style" deal the latest message. That's a "no-deal" deal in reality speak. Companies are urged to step up arrangements for an Australia-style arrangement. No thought of just in time manufacturing, rules of origin, regulatory standards, agricultural policy, the Irish border. The government Brexit advice service, is unable to give advice, because they do not know as yet, the advice to give.
"There is a lack of urgency on the part of too many traders". Lord Agnew of Oulton told the Treasury select committee this week. The Minister charged with Brexit preparedness, insisted he was not seeking to apportion blame, just pointing out an obvious case of indolence and sloth, on the part of some British traders.
"Business is running out of patience, with Brexit lectures from Number Ten", the headlines in the Times today. Dame Carolyn Fairbairn head of the CBI, called for "national unity" between business and government, ideally before she leaves office next week.
A meeting with the Prime Minister and business leaders this month was described as "terrible, disappointing and more of a lecture than an exchange of views. "They just don't get it" said one. "They just don't have a clue" claimed another. Johnson stayed for a few moments before handing over to Michael Gove.
Gove continued to trot out the same old trope. "We will go out into the world as a confident, independent, free trading, freedom embracing state." Yes and we get to eat our own fish too!
The Director General of the CBI said this week, "this is a time to bury the hatchet" ... where exactly was not made clear ... but time is running out ...
The Saturday Economist
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