Brexit preparations for businesses mid-pandemic branded 'unacceptable' by Scottish economy secretary

Pressure on businesses to prepare for Brexit alongside an ongoing global pandemic has been described as “unacceptable” by the economy secretary Fiona Hyslop.
Scottish businesses have been warned to get ready for BrexitScottish businesses have been warned to get ready for Brexit
Scottish businesses have been warned to get ready for Brexit

Her comments came as Scottish businesses were warned they may face additional disruption to their operations if they are not fully up to date with the latest Brexit advice following the last-gasp deal between the United Kingdom and European Union.

Calling on firms to ensure they are fully aware of the differences and additional requirements they need to comply with following the end of the transition period on January 1, Ms Hyslop said it was impossible for the Scottish Government to “mitigate every consequence” of leaving the EU.

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She said: “Scotland did not vote for Brexit and it is unacceptable that businesses have been left to prepare against a backdrop of confusion and uncertainty, while also having to deal with the effects of the pandemic.

"It is deeply regrettable that our calls for the transition period to be extended were rejected by the UK Government.

“We will do all we can to support businesses as they come to terms with the far reaching effects of Brexit and plan for a future outside the customs union and single market. A raft of constantly updated advice is available and I urge every business to visit the Prepare for Brexit website, whether they think they will be impacted or not.

“We cannot mitigate every consequence of leaving the EU. However, the Scottish Government is determined that Scotland should remain open to the world and I have every confidence that our innovative businesses will adapt and find new ways to thrive in international markets.”

Businesses in Scotland trading with the EU are likely to see disruption from January 1 due to the additional customs requirements brought about by the deal.

Additional customs checks, requirements to self-certify product origin and new complications for businesses who trade or move goods through Northern Ireland will instantly come into effect on January 1.

The new rules come as many businesses close their doors over the festive period and as many non-essential companies stop trading or moved to online services as mainland Scotland entered severe level four Covid-19 restrictions from Boxing Day.

Linda Hanna, interim chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, said: “We know 2020 has been incredibly tough for businesses across Scotland due to the impact of COVID-19. While many of our companies have understandably focused on getting through the pandemic, further change is on the horizon due to Brexit.

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“That’s why Scottish Enterprise and our partner agencies are here to help and offer what support we can to firms during this uncertain time. If they haven’t done so already, we would urge all companies to visit our Prepare for Brexit website, which will be maintained by our dedicated staff over the festivities.

“Guidance can be found here on useful steps and actions businesses of all sizes across Scotland - whether they are exporters or not - can take now. Together, we will ensure Scotland remains a world class business location and a successful trading nation.”

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