BULLDOZING Brexit through at a time the world is grappling with an unprecedented modern-day pandemic is threatening the future of thousands of businesses.
Two weeks in and there is no sign of a remedy to the disruption those in industries such as food production and road haulage say is widespread, and, rather than teething problems, it is expected to be the prelude.
So far, for businesses across sectors, getting Brexit done has broken supply chains, stemmed cashflow, ruined produce, and in just one example, guaranteed the loss of £1 million of seafood exports each day. Some already face going bust.
UK hauliers can’t travel easily across Europe, and EU hauliers are boycotting Britain. It is described by industry representatives as “chaos” at the borders.
A third of the Scottish fleet is tied up and Jamie McMillan is losing £1,000 a week, unable to get prime fresh produce to market. Pictures: Getty Images/PA Wire.
Instead of taking on board industry organisations’ repeated calls for a grace period, the UK Government decided to push on, all the time peppering its tub-thumping rhetoric with militaristic language around the vague notion of sovereignty.
The same government also claimed superpower status when the UK was the first to introduce the coronavirus vaccine. It seems the only word missing is “empire”.
Downing Street appears to be acting as if it is preparing to batten down the hatches for war rather than the glowing prosperity that was promised.
When asked directly about the border chaos, the UK Government seems pleased that it has “safeguarded the flow of critical goods, such as vaccines and vital medicines”.
The worrying position is brought into sharp focus in Business Editor Ian McConnell’s Called to Account column this week, where he describes “a Conservative Government consumed with Brexit fever”.
“Already the spectacular circus of shambles brought to us by Johnson, Gove et al is in full swing,” he writes, adding that “much of the damage the arch-Brexiters are inflicting on the UK economy and society with their folly will play out over years and decades,” but pointing also to a more immediate issue.
“Brexit, which has weighed so heavily on the UK economy in recent years in terms of uncertainty, will take a very heavy toll now that the protections against its effects that had been afforded by the transition period have come to an end.”
The coronavirus impact on aviation is significant. Picture: Getty Images
More concrete evidence of the terrible weight that coronavirus has brought on business and tourist travel is also now beginning to emerge and this week Deputy Business Editor Scott Wright revealed Glasgow Airport has warned of material uncertainties “which may cast significant doubt” over its ability to continue as a going concern.
Also this week, Business Correspondent Kristy Dorsey tells how Trickle, the Edinburgh start-up behind a country-wide wellbeing pilot, is using its app to help healthcare workers as it bids to raise funds. Almost as soon it was used the app helped identify PPE issues.
Elsewhere, Business Correspondent Mark Williamson writes that the Scotland director of the Institute of Directors has quit to join upmarket residential property specialist Simpson & Marwick.
Malcolm Cannon’s career so far has seen him lead a range of organisations through periods of change, including, of course, helping turn Hunter Boot’s farmyard wellie into a flexible fashion favourite.