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Brexit Bulletin: Lockdown blues

Brexit Bulletin

What's Happening? A fresh national lockdown will make the end of 2020 even tougher for business.

It has long been a worry for the U.K. government that businesses are poorly prepared for Britain's departure from the European Union's customs union and single market at end of 2020. The latest restrictions on people's movements are only going to make firms' preparations even more difficult, Joe Mayes and Charlotte Ryan report here.

This isn't just about having to communicate with your accounts department by Zoom. If Britain is to mitigate some of the most damaging economic consequences of leaving the EU, companies will need to be prepared: even if a deal is signed, firms that haven't got their documents in order run the risk of their goods being turned back at the border.

To make matters worse, businesses still aren't clear what kind of Brexit they're preparing for. Talks about a trade deal will resume in London next week. Both sides are still mired in the three big disagreements that have dogged the talks for eight months. Ian Wishart reported that this week's talks were dogged by big disagreements and ended without a deal in sight.  

With a mid-November deadline looming that both sides agree really matters, the next week is crucial. Bloomberg's Alberto Nardelli has seen a diplomatic note that says EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier believes the U.K. has shown no signs of movement on the big issues, and that it is up to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to change his stance. Things could get serious quickly when Johnson speaks with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Saturday. 

For businesses trying to navigate all this uncertainty and get answers out of the government about what they need to do, the mood is one of growing frustration. As Michael Poultney, the managing director of Albion Stone Plc, told Joe and Charlotte: "It's like the blind leading the blind."

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