Brexit uncertainty affects sales and investment lans, says CBI

Rain Newton-Smith

UK businesses are warning that recent Brexit uncertainty has significantly affected their sales and investment plans over the last few months, a new CBI survey says.

273 firms across the services, manufacturing, and distribution sectors took part in a survey assessing how ongoing Brexit uncertainty has affected various aspects of their business and what concerns them about a potential ‘no deal’ Brexit scenario.

Less than one month before the UK is set to leave the European Union, firms believe:

  • That the recent uncertainty around Brexit has negatively affected sales (weighted balance of -58%) and UK investment (-43%)
  • That costs have increased significantly (+59%) as a result of Brexit uncertainty, and that stockpiling of goods is an everyday business reality (+43%) with ‘no deal’ still on the table
  • Nearly 9 in 10 firms are concerned about potential delays at borders arising from a ‘no deal’ scenario.
  • Tariff changes also featured strongly among firms’ fears under a ‘no deal’ scenario, with 57% of respondents saying they were ‘extremely’ concerned and 19% ‘moderately’ concerned.
  • Nearly half (47%) of respondents reported ‘extreme’ concerns about uncertainty on EU citizens’ status, with 27% moderately concerned.

Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Chief Economist, said:“With Brexit stuck in stalemate, this only means growing damage today and a weaker economy tomorrow. Growth is at a near standstill and investment is evaporating; the economy is undoubtedly slowing down.

“Businesses are getting on with the day job and continue to show genuine resilience in the face of recent uncertainty – but the spectre of no deal is holding them back from investing in new factories, new overseas markets and new jobs.

“No deal would unleash a minefield of consequences that cannot be circumvented by mini-deals and last-minute horse-trading. Holding out for unicorns will guarantee no deal. Only backing a deal will take business uncertainty off boiling point.

“MPs must put jobs and the UK’s economic wellbeing before dogma and finally agree a way forward. Get behind the Prime Minister’s deal, but if you can’t, then get behind something else fast, to protect communities and living standards.”