The UK is nowhere near ready for a no-deal Brexit, new figures reveal

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  • New figures show the UK is "not even close to being ready for a no-deal Brexit," according to industry leaders.
  • Less than 10% of the firms have applied for the scheme launched to minimise no-deal disruption for imported goods.
  • Tory leadership frontrunner Boris Johnson and other candidates have insisted the UK will leave the EU in October with or without a deal.
  • "We're far, far away from being day one no-deal Brexit ready," Mike Spicer from the British Chambers of Commerce told the BBC.
  • A leaked Cabinet note also revealed this week that it would take "at least four to five months" to make traders ready for new border checks that would be required.

LONDON - Many UK firms are "not even close to being ready for a no-deal Brexit," according to newly released figures seen by the BBC.

The government in February launched the Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP) Scheme, which would ease the flow of imports if the UK left the EU without a deal in October.

But less than 10% of the firms estimated to need the status have applied for it as of May 26, a BBC Newsnight investigation found.

Several candidates vying to replace Theresa May as prime minister in July, including frontrunner Boris Johnson, have said they will take Britain out of the EU in October with no deal if parliament fails to approve one.

The TSP scheme would allow British firms to import goods from maintain Europe without the need to fill out customs declarations at the border.

Currently, the UK is a member of the EU's customs union, meaning goods coming into the country do not require firms to fill out any paperwork.

But only 17,800 firms had applied to the TSP by May 26, out of an estimated 240,000 who need the status by October 31, when the UK is scheduled to leave the EU.

"If it really is this low we're far, far away from being day one no-deal Brexit ready - it's a very low number," Mike Spicer from the British Chambers of Commerce told the BBC.

Matt Griffith, a member of the Bristol Chamber of Commerce told the BBC: "The top level lesson is that most small firms are not even close to being ready for a No Deal scenario."

A leaked Cabinet note also revealed this week that it would take "at least four to five months" to make traders ready for new border checks that would be required.

The note also warned that it would take "six to eight months" to build up supplies of medicines in such a scenario.

Boris Johnson has drawn criticism for his insistence that the UK will leave the EU on October 31 if he becomes prime minister, regardless of whether he has secured a deal with parliament's approval.

Speaking at his launch, he said it was impossible to "unite this country" until "we have delivered on the primary request of the people; the one big thing they have asked us to do."

"After three years and two missed deadlines, we must leave the EU on October 31," he said.

Our Brexit Insider Facebook group is the best place for up-to-date news and analysis about Britain's departure from the EU, direct from Business Insider's political reporters. Join here.

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