Business secretary tells firms to 'act now' on Brexit and warns there will be no extension

Saleha Riaz
·2-min read
The business secretary said companies must keep an eye on the government’s website Gov.uk to identify changes regarding manufactured goods, such as new marking requirements or approvals needed. Photo: by LEON NEAL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images.
The business secretary said companies must keep an eye on the government’s website to identify changes regarding manufactured goods, such as new marking requirements or approvals needed. Photo: by Leon Neal/POOL/AFP via Getty Images.

With just over a month left until the end of the transition period of Britain leaving the EU, UK business secretary Alok Sharma has warned companies to act urgently to avoid their operations being interrupted.

“These are challenging times, but the transition period is ending on 31 December 2020 and there will be no extension,” Sharma said in a letter to businesses.

“The government will be there to help you to take advantage of the many new opportunities that being an independent trading nation will bring,” Sharma added.

Britain and the EU are still negotiating a potential trade deal but businesses will face extra paperwork regardless of whether the UK leaves with or without a deal.

Sharma highlighted crucial actions businesses need to take such as checking new rules on importing and exporting goods between the EU and the UK.

He also said if companies are planning to recruit from overseas they will need to register as a licensed visa sponsor.

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“New employees from outside the UK will also need to meet new job, salary and language requirements,” he warned, adding Irish citizens and those eligible under the EU Settlement Scheme will not be not affected.

The business secretary said companies must keep an eye on the government’s website Gov.uk to identify changes regarding manufactured goods, such as new marking requirements or approvals needed.

He also pointed out that the website has a range of support, including webinars to walk companies through these changes.

Last month Lord Agnew, a minister of state working on Brexit preparedness at the Treasury and HMRC, said too few companies were ready for the extra paperwork necessary when Britain leaves the EU transition period.

“The bit that worries me the most is trader readiness,” Lord Agnew had told MPs on the Treasury Select Committee. “The traders are not as ready as they should be.”

Lord Agnew said many businesses were taking a “head in the sand approach,” in part due to fatigue from past Brexit deadlines, COVID-19, and a recession in the UK.

Meanwhile, it was reported earlier this week UK prime minister Boris Johnson has been urged to negotiate an adjustment period into any final trade agreement with the EU to provide “breathing space” of up to six months for businesses.

With Thursday touted as the latest deadline for negotiations, the Liberal Democrats and former Siemens boss Juergen Maier have joined forces to press the prime minister to effectively extend the transition period to give businesses more time to adjust to any new regulations.

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