The British government will warn businesses this week that time is running out to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Michael Gove - the cabinet minister overseeing preparations for leaving the EU without a deal - will hold talks with business leaders on Tuesday to encourage them to ramp up efforts for the possibility.
Westminister will launch a publicity campaign, entitled "Time is running out" and HMRC will inform 200,000 companies to arrange for new customs and tax rules to be introduced after the UK leaves the EU's Single Market and Customs Union.
The warning given to business will include:
- Those selling goods to the EU must prepare for new customs procedures.
- Checking for a visa or work permit will be required if travelling to the EU for work purposes.
- Businesses employing overseas nationals will need to prepare for the implementation of the new immigration system.
- From 1 January 2021, hiring anyone from outside the UK, including from the EU, will require the employer to be a Home Office-licensed sponsor.
- Any UK business or organisation that receives personal data from European Economic Area (EEA) contacts may need to take extra steps to ensure the legal flow of data at the end of the transition period.
- Those who provide services in the EU must ensure that their qualifications are still recognised by EU regulations in order to continue practicing or servicing clients in the EU.
In an attempt to increase government preparations, Gove ordered the cabinet's Brexit sub-committee to convene five times per week and said that he will chair the 150th committee meeting next week.
On Monday, he hosted European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic at a meeting of the EU-UK Joint Committee in London, dedicated to a discussion of the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement.
Johnson and Gove are also set to hold a phone call the following day with business representatives, federations, and businesses with large supply chains.
In response to the minister's announcement, British Chambers of Commerce Director-General Adam Marshall said that the UK is facing the "triple threat" of a coronavirus resurgence, a tightening of restrictions, and a disorderly end to the transition period, noting that "it is little wonder businesses are struggling to prepare".
"Many firms will be tired of posturing, cliff edges and deadlines, while others are still grappling with fundamental challenges as a result of the pandemic", he said.
"A UK-EU deal is still both possible and critical. Much may change for business at year end, but a deal would give firms more clarity so that they can plan and adjust".
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told Sky News' Kay Burley that the EU must act with more "flexibility and maturity", but suggested that the UK ending the transition period without a free trade deal was "acceptable".
However, the Scottish National Party's Westminster leader said that the title 'Time is running out' would be concerning for business and lead to "despair at the UK government's extreme approach, which risks inflicting further harm at a time when many are struggling to deal with the impact of the coronavirus crisis".
"It's clear beyond any doubt that only by becoming an independent country can we properly protect Scotland's interests and our place in Europe", he said.
The move follows an announcement by PM Johnson that the UK would have to prepare for a relationship with the EU similar to that of Australia's, which has no trade agreement with the bloc. This despite Australia's primary trading partner being China while the UK's major commercial relations are with Europe.
Trade negotiations between UK negotiator Lord Frost and Michel Barnier fell apart last week, culminating with the Westminister representative telling his EU counterpart not to bother returning to the UK this week.
If the UK and the EU fail to reach a settlement before they reach the 31 December deadline in the Withdrawal Agreement, exacerbated by disagreements over fishing waters, state aid, and the Irish border, Britain will leave the EU without a deal.