Prepare for no-deal Brexit, businesses warned

Businesses are still encouraged to ensure they have preparations in place for a no-deal Brexit as it is still not clear what will happen on Brexit day on Oct. 31, Catherine McGuinness, chair of the Policy and Resources Committee of the City of London Corporation, has said.

Speaking at a Brexit media roundtable in London, McGuinness said the City of London welcomes signs of progress towards some sort of deal resolution but more progress is needed to put aside the uncertainty for businesses to carry on with clarity.

“We want to avoid no-deal Brexit, see preparations in place in case that eventuality happens and we need to build for the future,” she said, acknowledging that mitigation plans have to be put in place by United Kingdom (UK) and European Union (EU) regulators as well as businesses.

McGuinness said that despite the uncertainties caused by Brexit, the City of London has continued to thrive, with more people moving there every day, partly because of new areas of business like fintech.

She said that while some businesses have moved activities and people to other EU member states, the figures at the moment are at the lower end of the range of predictions — around 7,000 announced moves.

Financial services companies are transferring assets worth around 1 trillion British pounds (1.3 trillion U.S. dollars) and relocating 7,000 jobs from London to other European cities, consultants EY said earlier in the year.

“The negotiations for the Brexit deal have been complicated by politics. We again with other business representatives urge pragmatism (in the talks for a longer term relationship with the EU) because this is going to have economic consequences for businesses and customers,” she said.

On Tuesday, the UK House of Commons voted against a fast-track timetable that would have guaranteed a Brexit on Oct. 31 with a deal.

Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, said on Tuesday night that he would recommend the 27 EU members to grant an extension to the UK’s withdrawal date from the bloc.