Until recently, few European officials believed a no-deal Brexit would happen, as their governments set in motion preparations. Now, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s rising threats to take Britain out of the EU with or without a deal by the Oct. 31 deadline is prompting EU officials to dust off plans ranging from information campaigns to fast hirings of customs officers.
European leaders aim to boost Brexit awareness among smaller and midsize enterprises, officials say. Big companies are preparing by hiring consultants, shifting headquarters, stockpiling merchandise, preparing alternate transport methods and determining tariff rates or customs procedures that would apply to products traded with Europe.
But smaller EU and British firms are still unprepared, warned the Confederation of British Industry in a recent report. “For hundreds of thousands of small companies, diverting precious resource—both human and financial—to Brexit preparedness measures is out of reach,” the report said.
As an EU member, the U.K. operates within the bloc’s customs union. In the event of a no-deal exit, tariffs for goods would default to World Trade Organization levels that are used among countries with no trade deals between them.
This is all on Brussels. They’ve played hardball this whole time, apparently expecting to be able to bully the UK into remaining. And perhaps that might have worked — under Theresa May. But now Boris Johnson is PM, and the EU’s backup plan has been revealed to be “What are we supposed to do now?”
UPDATE: Link was bad before. Fixed now — sorry!