Brexit: Boris Johnson must clarify new Europe trade deal to avoid delays and possible job losses, business groups warn

Boris Johnson has only a matter of weeks to provide clarity on new trading arrangements with Europe to avoid disruption, delays and possible job losses at the end of the year, business groups have warned.

Three days on from the UK’s formal departure from the EU, the prime minister is to use a high-profile speech on Monday to set out his plans to negotiate a comprehensive free trade agreement to an unprecedentedly tight deadline of 31 December, which he insists he will not extend. Addressing ambassadors and industry leaders, Mr Johnson will say that “no achievement lies beyond our reach”, as he sets out No 10’s priorities for the imminent trade talks, including no alignment with the EU.

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“There are two likely outcomes in negotiation – a free trade deal like Canada or a looser arrangement like Australia – and we are happy to pursue both,” a government source said on Saturday. But experts in transport logistics said he cannot risk taking negotiations to the wire.

They said companies urgently need precise details of the changes they will face, in order to recruit, train and deploy potentially thousands of staff to deal with expected extra red tape.

The prime minister’s goal of a Canadian-style FTA will inevitably mean more “friction” from form-filling and checks after 1 January, making trade with the EU slower and more expensive, they said. But the disruption will be heightened if they do not know the exact nature of the additional burden until the last minute.

“Business needs to prepare itself, but prepare itself for what?” said Road Haulage Association chief executive Richard Burnett. “We need to know now. What government fails to understand is that when you have big changes, businesses need to recruit people, train them, fund them, get the IT in place.

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1/50 1 February 2020

Activists attend an anti-Conservative government, pro-Scottish independence, and anti-Brexit demonstration outside Holyrood, the seat of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh

AFP via Getty

2/50 31 January 2020

Pro EU supporters display a banner ‘ Here to Stay, Here to Fight, Migrants In, Tories Out’ from Westminster bridge in front of the Houses of Parliament in London.

Britain officially exits the EU on 31 January, beginning an eleven month transition period


3/50 30 January 2020

Kiko the 2-year-old British Bulldog skateboarding with his owner, Ebel Perez, from Shiremoor, North Tyneside


4/50 29 January 2020

British MEP’s and their assistants along with members of the political group Socialist and Democrats at a ceremony prior to the vote on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU at the European Parliament in Brussels


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Torches are lit using a flare ahead of the Up Helly Aa Viking festival. Originating in the 1880s, the festival celebrates Shetland’s Norse heritage


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England bowler Mark Wood is lifted aloft by Joe Root after taking the final wicket of South Africa to win the match and series during day four of the Fourth Test at Wanderers in Johannesburg


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Performers taking part in a parade involving costumes, lion dances and floats, during Chinese New Year celebrations in central London, which marks the Year of the Rat


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A couple walks along the Basingstoke canal near to Dogmersfield in Hampshire


9/50 24 January 2020

Boris Johnson gestures as he watches a performance during celebrations for Chinese Lunar New Year at Downing Street in London


10/50 23 January 2020

Gabriella Zaghari-Ratcliffe stands next to her father Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and his mother Barbara, as they address the media in Downing Street following a meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson


11/50 22 January 2020

Rosa Connolly takes a close look during a preview of the Tyrannosaurs exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh


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The sun sets behind tower cranes and the London skyline in the city financial district


13/50 20 January 2020

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, speaks with Prime Minister Boris Johnson as they attend the UK-Africa Investment Summit at the Intercontinental Hotel in London. Johnson is hosting African leaders and senior government representatives along with British and African businesses during the UK-Africa Investment Summit, aimed at strengthening the UKs economic partnership with African nations


14/50 19 January 2020

Joe Root celebrates with his England team mates after taking the wicket of Rassie van der Dussen during day four of the third Test against South Africa in Port Elizabeth.

He took a career-best four wickets during the day’s play, which saw the home side follow on in their second innings. They trail England by 188 runs going into day five


15/50 18 January 2020

Drag queens pose on the pink carpet as they participate in the “Queen’s Walk” during RuPaul’s DragCon UK at Kensington Olympia

AFP via Getty

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Kitty Ross, curator of social history, is pictured reflected in a display cabinet while holding a skeleton violin from the 1880s that forms part of the Sounds of our City exhibition at the Abbey House Museum in Leeds


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Britain’s Harry, Duke of Sussex (C), hosts the Rugby League World Cup 2021 draw in the gardens of Buckingham Palace in London, Britain, 16 JaaEUR

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