Prospect of a no-deal Brexit worrying for business
As the clock runs down on Brexit, there is growing concern at the possibility that the UK could crash out of the EU without an agreed deal in place.
Britain and Europe hope to reach a deal by October, however, experience of this tortuous process so far tells us that the deadline is likely to slip, bringing us closer to the withdrawal date of March 29 next year, leaving very little time for examination of the fine print and full consideration of the implications of whatever is agreed.
That would be bad enough but a no-deal scenario is arguably worse, plunging the economy into uncharted territory.
Cabinet minister Liam Fox has fuelled concerns over a no-deal Brexit while former colleague David Davis said the EU would be making a 'massive miscalculation' if it thinks the UK is not ready to walk away from the talks without agreement.
Of course, this may be all a bit of sabre rattling as the negotiations go down to the wire but it makes life extremely difficult for businesses which are trying to plan and prepare for what is essentially the unknown.
There is talk of lengthy queues at ports and interruption to the supply chain which would have a severe impact on firms that need to keep goods moving, but no one can say with certainty what is likely to happen.
We are also hearing reports of goods such as medicines being stockpiled but that is not an option for many businesses.
Michael Ryan, the head of Bombardier's Northern Ireland operation, said storing material to mitigate a no-deal Brexit would cost the company up to £30 million, which is ``not how we can afford to run a business.''
It is unacceptable that firms have been left in this uncertain position and an indictment of the British government's handling of Brexit to date.