Andrew Gray, chair of PwC’s Brexit Steering Committee shares what he has learned from conversations with clients on Brexit preparations and why he thinks now is the time to act.
The new Prime Minister has made it clear the UK will leave the EU on 31 October 2019 with or without a deal. With the countdown clock once again ticking down to the UK leaving the EU on 31 October 2019, organisations are beginning to refocus on preparing for the different potential Brexit outcomes, including a ‘no deal’ scenario. The Government will soon be setting out its own proposals for a revised agreed exit from the EU, but the legal default is the UK would leave without a deal. The Prime Minister has confirmed the Government would be stepping up its 'No Deal' preparations, business should do the same.
In the shorter term the impact needs to be understood and specific preparations made to ensure organisations are ready for the potential Brexit scenarios that may come in October. No deal is increasing in likelihood, meaning that all organisations should have plans in place to preserve the continuity of their business. Those who were well prepared for a no deal exit in March 2019 are likely to still need to rework those preparations for a later exit date (eg to accommodate different seasonal demands).
Over a year ago, we set out our eight ‘no regret’ decisions that organisations should take to prepare for Brexit. And, as I look through them now, they all still stand.
Plan to be agile
Support your people
Know your supply chain
Clean up your current data
Build ways to capture more data
Take advantage of existing government schemes
Check out your contracts
Engage with key 3rd parties
With the slipping Brexit timetable, my personal ‘no regret’ decision - plan to be agile - has become more important than ever. Each time the Article 50 period is extended, Brexit becomes less about a one-off event and more a case of ‘Brexit as usual’. Deal or no deal, the full details of our future relationship with the EU may not be known for some years. Uncertainty is a prevalent feature of the business environment in the UK, and looks set to be for some time to come.
Planning to be agile means Brexit preparations needs to run parallel to future-proofing your organisation for the longer term. This includes adapting to the opportunities new technology offers and embracing new ways of working whilst reorienting to the new global trade environment and contributing to creating a new narrative for the UK.
In the shorter term there will be specific preparations that need to be made to ensure organisations are ready for the potential Brexit scenarios that may come in October. No deal is increasing in likelihood, meaning that all organisations should have plans in place to preserve the continuity of their business. Those who were well prepared for a no deal exit in March 2019 are likely to still need to rework those preparations for a later exit date (eg to accommodate different seasonal demands).
Most businesses by now have already got an executive level ‘head of Brexit’ or single person accountable for Brexit planning and preparations and often a supporting Steering Group with good representation across the business. But, understandably during the recent period of stasis, for many organisations the rhythm of meetings has faltered, with other priorities focusing minds. Further, many of those who supported Brexit planning may have moved onto new roles or even moved organisations. Also, for those who have been at the forefront of Brexit preparations, particularly in regulated sectors, and may now be dealing with Brexit fatigue, it might be the time to think about refreshing the team as your reinvigorate your planning and governance.
Explore our other ‘no regret’ decisions, from preparing for the future border, to supply chains, people and contracts and commercials, to ensure you are prepared as possible for whatever comes next after the 31 October 2019.
Partner, PwC United Kingdom
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