UK SMEs must prepare for “a range of possible outcomes”

19 Jan 2017

With news from Prime Minister Theresa May confirming that Britain is to leave the single market as part of its withdrawal from the European Union (EU), industry leaders are assessing the impact this will have on UK businesses.

Mike Cherry, Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, offered cautious optimism, calling Mrs May's announcement "the starting point for a pro-business Brexit."(1) He added however that the government must now show "concerted action to address trade, talent and transitional arrangements."

In a statement issued by the CBI, Director-General Carolyn Fairbairn said that Mrs May’s announcement created greater clarity for businesses, and called on the government to ensure that it delivers it’s objectives and achieves “a smooth and orderly exit".(2)

“Today the Prime Minister changed the landscape,” Ms Fairburn said. “Ruling out membership of the Single Market has reduced options for maintaining a barrier-free trading relationship between the UK and the EU. But businesses will welcome the greater clarity and the ambition to create a more prosperous, open and global Britain, with the freest possible trade between the UK and the EU.

“Businesses want to make a success of Brexit but will be concerned about falling back on damaging WTO rules.

“They stand ready to support the negotiations to get the best possible deal for the UK by ensuring that the economic case is heard loud and clear.”

But Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chamber of Commerce criticised Mrs May's announcement saying it left more questions than answers. (3)

“While businesses now have a clearer sense of the Prime Minister's top-line priorities, they will come away from her speech knowing little more about the likely outcome of the Brexit negotiations than they did yesterday,” he said.

Mr Marshall warned businesses leaders to not become too wrapped up in the "Brexit noise", but rather remain focussed on preparing for “a range of possible outcomes."

"Having the right skills, infrastructure and business environment across the UK will play a far bigger part in our future success than any eventual Brexit deal," he added.

Whilst the future remains largely uncertain for UK SMEs, businesses must ensure they have the right structures in place to respond quickly to the changing market conditions.

Our SME business experts at Beavis Morgan are able to guide you on your strategy, help you navigate the challenges that lie ahead, and assist in making those all-important business decisions that will have the greatest impact on future success.

Contact Steve Govey or your usual Beavis Morgan Partner for further information about how we can assist you and your SME business.

(1) FSB: Pro-business Brexit must be founded on trade, talent and transition
(2) CBI: The business response to the Prime Minister's Brexit speech
(3) BCC: BCC comments on Theresa May’s Brexit speech