With less than 6 months to go until the Brexit deadline of 29 March 2019, and a critical European Council meeting taking place later this week, a huge amount of uncertainty still remains.
In the second edition of our survey, Brexit in the Boardroom – The View from Business (Autumn 2018 update), we spoke to over 2,000 leaders of large businesses across four major EU economies (France, Germany, Spain and the UK) to understand how their plans for Brexit have evolved, whether their expectations have changed, and what concrete steps they have taken during 2018 to prepare.
What are businesses now saying?
- Timing: Back in December 2017, 75% of firms expected clarity on the UK-EU relationship by June 2018. That deadline came and went. Now only 12% in the UK and 20% in Europe believe they have clarity, with 74% expecting they will now get clarity by February 2019.
- Decision making: Previously 84% of respondents had said that they will make irreversible decisions by September 2018 but only 19% have done so. Now, three-quarters (75%) of respondents say they will make irreversible decisions to manage Brexit by February 2019 when they expect to have clarity on the outcome of the negotiations.
- Deal vs no-deal: 58% of large companies believe the UK will continue to have tariff-free access to the single market after Brexit (down from 65% in December 2017), with that belief rising to 68% for UK firms (down from 75%). 76% of businesses say they have a ‘no-deal’ contingency plan prepared or in place.
- Impact on UK R&D: 63% of UK firms and 61% of European firms said they planned to move R&D facilities from the UK to the EU as a result of Brexit.
Overall, our survey results reveal that businesses are, in the main, still expressing optimism about their growth prospects following Brexit – but with reduced confidence. Businesses also feel less ‘well-informed’ now than they did in December 2017. Our survey results indicate that many business leaders are preparing contingency measures for a no-deal, but are still banking on a ‘soft’ Brexit and putting off some key decisions. In our view, now is the crucial time for businesses to take action to ensure that they are prepared for multiple potential scenarios.
We hope that you will find the survey results interesting. If you’d like to discuss the survey findings or learn more about how we can help your business prepare for the Brexit challenges ahead, please do get in touch here.
You can find out more about the FTI Consulting Brexit Taskforce here.