A REPORT by West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce published on April 8 probably hasn’t had the attention it deserves.
It highlights how Brexit isn’t working for Yorkshire firms – a wake-up call from an organisation not known for crying wolf.
Its Q1 2021 EU Trade Report points to three “standout” concerns for manufacturers since Brexit transition arrangements ended:
Increased transport costs (experienced by 52 per cent of manufacturers). Border disruption (45 per cent). Customs charges (41 per cent).
So far, most affected businesses have tried to absorb these increased costs – which is not sustainable, says the chamber.
It adds that some can try to avoid “double duty” by moving their operations to the EU – and “several companies [we know] are doing this”. The chamber didn’t start its survey until 46 days into Brexit (February 15), so critics can’t dismiss the findings as just a blip.
Brexit issues are broken down under two headings –“adjustments” and “structural”.
The former may turn out to be “teething problems” and will probably “ease... as companies acclimatise”, says the chamber.
Structural ones won’t, however – neither in the short term nor the long term.
West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce is, of course, trying to be apolitical and is appealing to Boris Johnson’s Ministers to take note and agree “necessary refinements” to their Brexit deal.
The chamber doesn’t specifically ask the Government to negotiate EU Single Market and Customs Union access – something which was still being contemplated by Vote Leave campaigners such as Mr Johnson after the 2016 referendum.
But Leeds for Europe reckons that such a solution would address most of the chamber’s concerns.
Unfortunately, we doubt that this Prime Minister and
his Government possess the sense, pragmatism and understanding of the needs of business to take much notice without further pressure.
Hopefully, our city’s Labour MPs will draw attention to the chamber’s report from their self-professed “very clearly pro-business” but lately Brexit-shy leader, Sir Keir Starmer.