On Tuesday, Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove urged the UK economy to prepare for a possible no-deal Brexit. In a 20-minute conference call with trade organizations and supervisors from 250 leading British companies, he and Prime Minister Boris Johnson held out the prospect of leaving the EU without an agreement.
But while the entrepreneurs hoped for support and reassuring words, they perceived the conversation more as a kind of staging. As the failed attempt to present the EU exit as a great opportunity. Brexit is like moving, Gove told the company bosses: “At first it is a huge effort – but you will get an upgrade”.
On the part of the entrepreneurs, however, this rather caused uncertainty. For example, Carolyn Fairbairn, director of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), told the “Financial Times”: “It is really difficult for companies to prepare – because they do not know what for.”
“Shocking, embarrassing and not constructive”
Compared to the British newspaper “The Telegraph”, one participant described the event as “shocking, embarrassing and not constructive”. He feared the government would try to attribute future trade disruptions to business failure. “It seems that the preparations are now in the hands of the companies.”
The entrepreneurs criticize the government in its handling of the upcoming Brexit and its consequences for the economy. “It feels like you’ve only realized this in the past few weeks. And it’s incredibly scary, especially since we don’t have much time. “
Small businesses should get support
According to “The Telegraph”, the focus of the event was on smaller companies – those that would be more affected by a no-deal Brexit. In addition, these would be less well equipped for the transition than larger companies. According to the report, there should have been signals from the government to support said companies financially in the future.
At the same time, Johnson and Gove warned larger companies not to pass on costs and risks along their supply chains to smaller companies. According to Gove, “intensive discussions” are necessary for the concrete implementation of the subsidies.
Johnson left after ten minutes
Even if he promised financial support – Johnson’s appearance caused outrage. He said “rien ne vas plus” about the stalled talks – nothing works anymore. “The prime minister stuck to what he said last week,” one participant told the Telegraph. “Nobody learned anything.”
In total, the Prime Minister only spoke for about ten minutes – then he left. That is “disrespectful”, so the participant. The fact that Johnson left the call early suggests his lack of interest.
Johnson speaks of “fantastic opportunities” for companies
Another audience member told the “Telegraph” that it felt as if the government wanted to tell companies “about the ‘great opportunities that Brexit will bring” “. Johnson spoke of “a moment of change”, of the “dynamic that offers companies fantastic opportunities”. Another source said the event was “carefully staged”. “Only three obviously preselected questions were asked.”
Another participant told the Telegraph: “It felt like an exercise for the government to say that it has officially spoken to business. The Prime Minister has no sense of details – that is exactly what Brexit is about. “