Planning for a no deal Brexit
Your organisation needs to plan for a no deal Brexit. You should undertake a risk assessment if you haven’t already. It’s good business practice.
There are plans that organisations should be making for Brexit irrespective of the uncertainty.
This was the message of an event this morning in Gateshead aimed at arming public relations practitioners with Brexit-preparedness knowledge.
The event was co-hosted by PRCA Borderlands and North East and CIPR North East, with speakers from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), North East England Chamber of Commerce and law firm Square One Law.
The LEP has created a Brexit toolkit for local organisations. It covers planning, support, finance and events, and complements the Government’s own guidance.
“We’re growing the LEP team to provide advisory services from data gathering, through supply chain and readiness assessment and brokerage services,” said business growth director, Colin Bell.
Brexit planning was a theme addressed by all the speakers at the event.
Arlen Pettitt, knowledge development manager, North East England Chamber of Commerce urged organisations to ask smart questions and lobby regional development and trade organisations on its behalf.
“There's never going to be a letter drop on your mat telling you what to do, you have to ask the questions of your business, build scenarios and prepare based on what you can work out,” said Pettit.
Brexit uncertainty has led to a slowdown in capital investment among North East England Chamber of Commerce members. Those organisations that are taking a proactive approach to Brexit are focusing on skills.
Neil Warwick OBE from Square One Law in Newcastle has spent the past three years advising clients and government on Brexit preparedness. He said that he expected Brexit to occupy the rest of his career.
Warwick urged attendees to dial down the rhetoric, stop listening to the media and social media, and focus on facts. The current political discourse and media reporting is unhelpful to business planning.
“So far all we’ve managed to do is send a letter,” said Warwick.
“No deal is a myth. Likewise, the notion of Brexit being done on 31 October. Both will require extensive negotiations to reestablish trading terms with the EU, likely to take five the seven years.”
Both Pettitt and Warwick ran delegates through scenarios for the latest round of Brexit negotiations and likely impact on UK politics.
A deal before the Prime Minister’s deadline of 31 October seems unlikely. The Benn Act stipulates that there must be a request for an extension to the negotiations.
Warwick urged organisations to focus on no deal for now however unlikely it may seem because it is the best information available. Organisations need to plan for people, goods, capital and services, he said.
A risk assessment should also form part of a no deal planning exercise focused on four areas: contingency, supply chain, on-shoring or offshoring and implementation.
The Brexit preparedness session was a rare hour of straight talking and practical advice thanks to the speakers.
It’s great to see the CIPR and PRCA cooperating on an issue that promotes the role of public relations to the business community and broader public. It should be packaged as a toolkit and rolled out in every region around the UK.
My wife Sarah Waddington is PRCA Borderlands and North East chair and CIPR vice president. She led on the content, speakers, organisation of the event and cooperation between the CIPR and PRCA. I’ve a clear bias but it was excellent regardless.