UK Politics: Government launches 'let's get going' Brexit readiness campaign

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The government has launched a campaign encouraging preparation for the end of the Brexit transition period, but a survey suggests most businesses don't feel ready. Tradefair brings you the latest from UK politics...

This is a new start for everyone in the UK - British and European citizens alike - so let's get going."

- Michael Gove

The government has launched a public information campaign outlining the actions British businesses and individuals need to take to prepare for the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31 2020.

Talks over the details of Britain's future relationship with the European Union are ongoing, but the Cabinet Office stressed that UK companies and citizens need to be ready for the full withdrawal from the bloc, "regardless of the outcome of negotiations".

It comes as a survey by the Institute of Directors (IoD) shows that only a quarter of business leaders feel fully prepared for the end of the transition period.

'Let's get going'

Dubbed 'The UK's new start: let's get going', the campaign will "clearly set out" the actions organisations and individuals need to take to prepare for the changes taking effect from January 1 2021, the government said.

It will target:

  • UK citizens planning to travel to Europe from the start of next year
  • All importers to and exporters from EU countries
  • UK nationals living in the EU and European Economic Area
  • Swiss citizens living in the UK

    British citizens planning a trip to Europe next year will be urged to prepare by getting comprehensive travel insurance, ensuring they have a valid passport and checking their mobile phone provider's roaming policy.

    Businesses will be advised to get ready for exporting or importing to the EU by taking steps like getting an EORI number and registering with the relevant customs authority.

    The government stressed that, as well as preparing people and organisations for the end of the Brexit transition period, the campaign will highlight the "significant opportunities" ahead, such as fresh prospects for exporters under new free trade agreements.

    Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove reiterated the government's commitment to leaving the EU single market and customs union at the end of this year, regardless of how the ongoing negotiations with Brussels unfold.

    "While we have already made great progress in getting ready for this moment, there are actions that businesses and citizens must take now to ensure we are ready to hit the ground running as a fully independent United Kingdom," he added.

    "This is a new start for everyone in the UK - British and European citizens alike - so let's get going."

    'Utter horror'

    Brexit remains a major source of concern for many businesses across the UK, with an IoD survey showing that nearly half of company directors feel unable to prepare for the end of the transition period. One in seven said they were distracted by the coronavirus pandemic and almost a third felt they needed more detail about forthcoming changes in order to fully prepare.

    IoD director general Jonathan Geldart said: "With so much going on, many directors feel that preparing for Brexit proper is like trying to hit a moving target. Jumping immediately into whatever comes next would be a nightmare for many businesses."

    Sir Ed Davey, acting leader of the Liberal Democrats, said coping with fresh disruption when the transition period ends on December 31 will be an unwelcome prospect for businesses that are already struggling to survive amid the current health crisis.

    "The fact that the government is now trying to force them to gear up and prepare for the end of the transition period will fill them with utter horror," he added.

    Labour issued a statement over the weekend saying there is "division and disarray" at the top of government around the UK's EU border preparations ahead of the country's full withdrawal from the bloc next year.

    FTSE opens in the green

    Despite the apparent business concerns over preparing for the end of the Brexit transition period, the FTSE 100 opened strongly this morning.

    Driven partly by fresh optimism around coronavirus treatments and progress towards a vaccine, London's blue chip index jumped by more than 1% at the open. France's CAC 40 and Germany's DAX index were also up.

    European markets took their lead from Asia, with Tokyo's Nikkei 225 gaining more than 2% throughout the day and Shanghai's SSE Composite Index rising by 1.7%.

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