Bracing for Brexit: UK tells companies to prepare for December 31

The United Kingdom is urging businesses and individuals to prepare for the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31 with an information campaign titled: “The UK’s new start: let’s get going.”

The UK left the European Union on January 31 – three-and-a-half years after a referendum – but a transition period has delayed any major change in the relationship. The two sides have been working to agree on a trade deal ahead of that period expiring at the end of the year.

Cabinet Minister and the UK’s senior minister for Brexit Michael Gove said on Sunday that progress was being made in talks but there were still divisions.

“At the end of this year we are leaving the single market and Customs Union regardless of the type of agreement we reach with the EU,” he said. “This will bring changes and significant opportunities for which we all need to prepare.”

The information campaign will begin on Monday, the government said, with advertisements appearing on TV, radio, billboards and online.

A survey from lobby group the Institute of Directors (IoD) said only a quarter of companies were fully ready for the end of the transition period. Nearly half of 978 company directors polled in late June said they were not able to prepare right now, with one in seven distracted by the coronavirus and almost a third saying they needed details of changes to be clear, the IoD said.

The campaign targets British citizens intending to travel to the EU from January 1, importers and exporters, UK nationals abroad, and EU, European Economic Area and Swiss nationals living in the UK.

The UK officially told the European Union in mid-June that it would not seek an extension to the post-Brexit transition period beyond December 31.

London maintains it does not need more time to secure a free trade deal, despite deadlock in the talks over key areas, and a tight timeline made more acute by the coronavirus pandemic.

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