UK needs months and months to prepare for no-deal Brexit

London, UK: The UK is unprepared for a no-deal Brexit and it will take months to prepare for border checks and to ensure that there is no disruption to pharma supplies, according to a confidential note seen by the Financial Times.

The note warns that the government needs six to eight months of engagement with the pharmaceutical industry “to ensure adequate arrangements are in place to build stockpiles of medicines by October 31”.

It also says that it would take “at least 4-5 months” to improve trader readiness for the new border checks, including the provision of financial incentives to encourage exporters and importers to register for new schemes.

Meanwhile, many UK businesses “are not even close to being ready for a no-deal” Brexit, according to figures seen by Newsnight.

In February, HMRC launched the Transitional Simplified Procedures scheme, aimed at easing imports in the event of the UK leaving the customs union and single market abruptly.

However, less than 10% of the firms estimated to require the status had applied for it as of 26 May, Newsnight found.

Manufacturers and food businesses have been speaking out again about a possible no-deal Brexit. Seamus Nevin, the chief economist with Make UK, which represents some of the country’s largest manufacturers, said: “A no-deal Brexit would be nothing short of commercial suicide.”

Businesses told MPs that a Halloween Brexit would be a disaster.

Tim Rycroft, chief operating officer with the Food and Drink Federation, said shortages of food would begin to appear within two weeks of a no-deal Brexit.

Fresh fruit and vegetables would be held up on the Calais-Dover journey because of mandatory food health checks, but so too would processed chicken originating in the UK, he said.

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