Business leaders across Yorkshire have joined in the chorus of criticism over Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, labelling it a “total disaster” that could force some firms into closure.
Some companies in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire have already lost customers following Britain’s formal severing of ties with Brussels earlier this month, with a heap of new declarations, tariffs and charges cutting into margins.
Chris Cox, managing director of Mollart Cox Engineering in Chesterfield, told The Sheffield Star: “It’s a total disaster and the most ill-prepared situation I’ve ever come across. They only had four years to prepare for it and it’s a total embarrassment. It will cause job losses and have a detrimental effect on our ability to export.”
Another business leader, Nick Buxton of Buxton Special Alloys in Rotherham, said: “This is causing us massive issues with material stuck at customs that is delayed due to them not understanding the new paperwork.
“We lost three customers since we came back after the new year because material was delayed 10 days in customs. The country is a shambles yet there’s been no thought for the impact it has on us.
“Maybe it will only be short term but what is short term? Brexit took four years!”
Adam Bradley, director of Corrosion Resistant Materials in Swinton, Mexborough, added: “I don’t think enough has been done to educate EU companies who import into the UK. Times are already tough following almost a year of Covid and this could be the tipping point.
“Too much red tape and too many differing opinions of what is best is causing many issues. It all seems to be falling on the shoulders of businesses to sort the paperwork and pay the additional transport and customs duties, as well as VAT and duty which is being charged in many circumstances.”
Their concerns echo those of business owners across the UK – with many, particularly small businesses, already feeling the pinch of Britain’s restrictive new trading relationship with the EU.
Last week it emerged that British boozers could end up paying up to £1.50 extra per bottle on many European wines while choosing from a reduced range because of post-Brexit paperwork, merchants have cautioned.
Importers said the cost of new customs declarations combined with higher haulage prices would hit UK drinks in the pocket – while flat-rate costs per shipment would push wholesalers to offer a narrower variety of wine.
“We are looking at a totally avoidable increase in the cost of wine across the board,” Jason Millar, a director at wholesaler Theatre of Wine, told the Financial Times. “Many importers will cut wines, not because they don’t believe in them . . . but because they don’t feel they are able to muster enough volume.”
Daniel Lambert, a wine wholesaler who imports two million bottles a year, said he believed Brexit bureaucracy would add up to £1.50 to the price of a £12 bottle of wine.
A Leave-voting fish merchant, meanwhile, declared Brexit an “absolute nightmare” for the industry, admitting he “made a mistake” by voting to sever ties with the EU.
“The reality is, it’s now 20 January and we haven’t yet sent a consignment to Europe from Brixham,” Ian Perkes told BylineTV. “Forty-four years I’ve been selling fish, and overnight it’s pretty much been destroyed. I don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel as we speak.”