The Brexit extension is welcomed by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), but it highlights the damage the continuing uncertainty over Brexit is doing to small businesses. Anna Tobin reports
In response to the EU’s decision to grant a flexible Brexit extension until 31 January 2020, the national chairman of the FSB, Mike Cherry, said: “There will be a collective sigh of relief from small businesses that a no-deal Brexit in three days’ time has been avoided. However, they will find themselves trapped by more uncertainty as Westminster fails to move beyond Brexit.
“For many small firms, extensions are doubled-edged swords – yes they safeguard against the damage of a no-deal Brexit but they also prolong uncertainty without actually removing the potential of a no-deal further down the road. A proper transition period remains small firms’ top ask, ideally for two years. This will give small businesses enough time to prepare for whatever changes are to come.
“These firms have been starved of certainty, battening down the hatches for a potential no-deal that would have harmed nearly 40 per cent of our members. All this has done is cause them to stop making business decisions. They have stopped hiring staff, they’ve stopped investing and they’ve stopped growing.
“MPs continue to be very good at not making decisions about Brexit but there comes a time when decisions need to be made. We are way past this point – we cannot get stuck in a cycle of never-ending extensions. MPs from all parties must come together and use this extra time in a meaningful way to break the deadlock as quickly as possible. Small businesses need this.”