Campaigners for “Vote Leave” gather in the Southwick district of Sunderland, U.K. (Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg)

Most U.K. Firms Are Still Unprepared for Brexit, Survey Finds

(Bloomberg) -- Most British firms are unprepared for Brexit, but a fifth plan to move all or some of their business to the European Union in the event the U.K. fails to reach a deal with the bloc, according to one of the biggest surveys so far on the topic.

Some 62 percent of companies are yet to carry out a Brexit risk assessment, according to the survey published Friday by the British Chambers of Commerce. Their poll of more than 2,500 companies also found that 21 percent of businesses would cut investment in the U.K. in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The findings are a wake-up call for the government, underlining the lack of preparation in corporate Britain and the potential economic damage that would result from a chaotic Brexit. Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposal was rejected by European leaders last week, forcing her to come up with a new Brexit plan both the EU and the warring factions in her Conservative Party can accept.

“Businesses are clear that reaching a deal with the EU, which addresses the future terms of trade and provides certainty, must be the government’s number one priority,” BCC Director-General Adam Marshall said in a statement. “Our evidence is clear: failure to reach a political agreement would have real-world consequences, with significant decreases in both investment and recruitment.”

Negotiators are trying to forge a withdrawal agreement and an accompanying political statement on the future relationship between the EU and the U.K. by mid-November. May must put the deal to a vote in the U.K. Parliament, and it must also be approved by the European parliament in time for Britain’s scheduled departure at the end of March.

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