From Liberal Democrat HQ Press Office:
The Liberal Democrats are calling on PM to seek an “Adjustment Period” for businesses to transition to new UK-EU trade arrangements
The Liberal Democrats are urging the Prime Minister to negotiate an “Adjustment Period” as part of the deal with the EU, to ensure British businesses have enough time to prepare for the new trading relationship with Europe.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, the Liberal Democrats warn of a potentially “existential” threat to businesses if they are not given time to adjust and argue that – by phasing-in new rules, regulations and procedures – businesses would have the “breathing space” they need to prepare and adapt.
Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:
“Businesses cannot afford to be hit with the double whammy of Covid and disrupted trade with Europe, our biggest trading partner. With job losses already mounting, the danger is unemployment will rise still further in the new year, unless urgent action is taken.
“Despite months of negotiations, businesses are still in the dark about the details of their future trading relationship with Europe. With just weeks to go and our economy on its knees, this is inexcusable.
“The Prime Minister must urgently recognise what’s in the best interests of British businesses, and secure a time-bound adjustment period to allow firms to adapt to new trade arrangements and save jobs.”
Text of letter
The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP
10 Downing Street
Dear Prime Minister,
As you conclude the trade negotiations with the EU, we are writing to urge you to negotiate an “Adjustment Period” as part of the deal with the EU, to ensure British businesses have enough time to prepare for the new trading relationship with Europe.
As you are well aware, the Coronavirus pandemic has caused immense problems for all businesses across the UK. The economic challenges from the pandemic are unprecedented. People across business have had to focus on trying to survive the pandemic, and many as a result have simply not been able to focus on preparing for Brexit.
Even those firms who have focused on preparations for Brexit have had to do so, without any clarity on what the new trading relationship with Europe will be – despite the fact that this is currently scheduled to start in a matter of weeks.
Uncertainty is bad for business at any time, but the combination of the challenges of battling the impact of Coronavirus restrictions alongside having now to cope with the huge challenge of complying with new trading procedures, at very short notice, could be very damaging. Indeed, some in the business community tell us they are seriously concerned that the threat they face due to these twin challenges is existential. Some small businesses who rely on exports and imports simply don’t have the funds to adapt on time.
To be clear, claims that businesses have had months or years to prepare are simply untrue, since the details of what firms need to prepare for are still unknown. Industry bodies from every sector of the economy have warned that they will need time to adjust.
So we urge you to negotiate the reasonable and practical measure of a three to six-month Adjustment Period in the EU trade deal, to save jobs and businesses.
By phasing-in new rules, regulations and procedures, our businesses would have the breathing space they need to prepare and adapt. The UK will also have time to prepare for the logistical burden of customs checks at the border.
At a time when our country faces an unprecedented challenge from the pandemic, it is more important than ever to put ideology to one side and stand by British businesses and workers.
We sincerely hope that you will give this proposal serious consideration.
Rt Hon Sir Ed Davey MP, Leader of the Liberal Democrats
Christine Jardine MP, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson
Juergen Maier CBE, former CEO of Siemens UK, Chair, LD Business and Economic Council