Following a week of pantomime in Westeminster that no novellist could ever have imagined, Geoff, our parliamentary candidate for Chingford and Woodford Green, issued the following statement to the local press on his understanding of the readiness, or otherwise, of local businesses to make themselves ready for a No Deal (or in fact any deal) Brexit.
Amid the political turmoil of last week in Parliament over the Prime Minister’s determination not to seek a delay to the UK’s departure from membership of the EU, pressure is building up on local businesses to prepare for a No-Deal scenario. The Government has now issued its advice on sources of information by industry sector and registrations that will be required with the essential message being “Do it now”. This coincides with a report from the British Chamber of Commerce (6th September) which has surveyed its members and found that 41% of business had not yet undertaken a basic Brexit risk assessment, a figure that includes 37% of businesses that trade internationally.Having made the assessment there is a mountain of work required for those businesses to be properly prepared but, according to London First, a lobbying group for major London companies, 21% of all firms lack the resources to devote to the tasks recommended and 32% admit not to knowing where to begin given the uncertainty as to whether or not there will be a deal. Not surprisingly, they don’t want to spend money on something that may prove to be unnecessary.
There are 13,000 businesses operating in Redbridge and 10,000 operating in Waltham Forest* of which 98% have 50 or less employees and over 50% of those are in sectors, such as the construction and retail industries, most likely to be adversely affected by Brexit. LibDem parliamentary candidate for Chingford and Woodford Green, Dr Geoff Seeff, a chartered accountant and urban regeneration specialist, is excoriating in his criticism of the cavalier approach taken by Prime Minister Johnson to business in his desperation to drag the country out of the EU. “I am too much of a gentleman to repeat the now well-known comment by him about legitimate business concerns. But what sort of fool ignores the potential chaos, damage and cost that a no deal (or any deal) Brexit is going to have! From the various surveys it is clear that the majority of businesses are not likely to be in a position to cope with the complexities of the paperwork and restrictions they will in future face importing from and exporting goods and services to continental Europe”.
Geoff continued “Even as the country braces itself for the impending Brexit crash, the financial and personal costs are mounting. Apart from diverting attention from domestic issues, the Government has wasted over £5 billion on consultants, additional civil servants, studies, re-organisations and propaganda; the loss to businesses over three years has been estimated at over £66 billion** whilst the public is already finding difficulties in obtaining regular supplies of household goods and medicines as wholesalers start to stockpile. Only last week, my wife could not collect a prescription for a relatively common European manufactured medication from her local pharmacy and had to contact six others before it could be fulfilled. I am sure many others can tell similar stories but my real concern here is for those with life threatening conditions and those who are less able than my wife to locate a pharmacy with the medication in stock and be sufficiently mobile or have the help to pick up their prescriptions.”
*Economic Statistics LB Redbridge and LB Waltham Forest
**The Independent 4th April 2019