UK’s intransigent stance on Brexit risks disaster – Scotsman comment

As firms innovate to cope with the Covid-related economic crisis, the UK’s Brexit plans remain stubbornly the same.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

The decision by Pret A Manger, which recently announced the closure of around 30 stores and loss of nearly 3,000 jobs, to create a subscription service is an innovative attempt to respond to our current troubled times. The deal would see customers pay £20 a month for up to five drinks a day so the thirstiest would pay just 13 pence for each. That’s a good deal – so good, in fact, that it comes with more than a hint of desperation.

Presumably the company is hoping customers will buy sandwiches and other things along with their drinks, but it is an indication how firms are having to take extraordinary measures amid the economic devastation caused by Covid.

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In July, a study by the Social Market Foundation found more than two-thirds of UK jobs are in sectors now facing moderate or severe ramifications as a result of the pandemic over the next three years. Household names like John Lewis and Boots have announced major job cuts and doubtless they will also be looking for new ways of working that will help minimise the damage.

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Pret A Manger launches coffee subscription service

Given this situation, one would expect politicians to be bending over backwards to offer all the help they can. And, to be fair, both the Scottish and UK Government have been putting vast sums into schemes, such as furlough, to keep the economy afloat.

However, on one issue, the UK Government remains utterly intransigent and determined to press ahead with its plans regardless of how dramatically our fortunes have changed for the worse. It is increasingly clear that the UK will not secure a trade deal with the European Union before the Brexit transition period runs out in less than four months’ time. And that means supply chains will be plunged into chaos overnight on 31 December as border crossings change from being frictionless to friction-full.

The Road Haulage Association warned the UK was “sleepwalking into disaster” and should “act now before it’s too late”, saying there would be serious problems even if some kind of deal was struck at the last moment. The RHA’s Rod McKenzie said: “When we are trying to emerge from the crisis of Covid, if we then plunge straight into a Brexit-related crisis, that will be a really difficult moment.”

Boris Johnson’s Government needs to wake up to the fact that its ‘business model’ for Britain is no longer fit for purpose, that Brexit is not the priority for the people of this country, and it simply must change course.

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