While the Brexit process was always going to be challenging, the coronavirus crisis has thrown up new problems that will need to be solved urgently, according to the heads of more than 1,000 UK companies operating in the aerospace, security, and defence sectors.

Paul Everitt, chief executive of trade lobby ADS, said that a disruptive Brexit “is an unwelcome challenge” following the grounding of the aviation sector during lockdown. He made his remarks just days after UK and EU transition talks ended in failure and mutual recrimination, with the EU insisting on access to UK fishing grounds and the UK demanding a level playing field for financial services.

LITTLE CASH FOR STOCKPILING

“Supply chain companies across the UK are focussed on survival and the crisis has put severe pressure on cashflow, restricting their ability to rebuild the stockpiles that were their primary mitigation measure.
“It is important that the Government and the EU work to reach a deal that avoids any further damage. A no-deal Brexit would cause industry in the UK and in Europe further damage,” he said.
A particular concern is for food supplies and medicines. Wholesalers have been asked to stockpile six weeks supply of medicines before December 31 and the end of the Brexit transition period.
Pharmaceutical companies have called for the UK’s negotiators to seek a Mutual Recognition Agreement – one in which both sides accept each other’s drug safety testing and inspections before export. They say this is the only way to avoid supply chain disruption or delays to patient access to medicine.

In the meantime, the UK logistics sector is saying that detailed guidance is still urgently need from the government on issues including freight capacity, ferry routes and the Northern Ireland Protocol.

PHOTO: UK trucks ‘war game’ Brexit in 2019 Reuters