Majority of accountants expect no-deal Brexit, poll finds

A majority of people working in the finance sector believe the UK will exit the EU without a deal, a study found.

Research by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) found 73% of more than 300 of its members think such an outcome is either “very likely” or “quite likely”.

Just over half (56%) said their organisation is prepared for a no-deal Brexit.

One in three believe the UK will formally leave on the appointed date of March 29.

Prime Minister Theresa May last month said MPs will be given the chance to vote on whether to extend Article 50 – if her Brexit deal is not approved in Parliament and if there is then a vote against leaving without a deal.

ICAS said concerns were raised at organisations which employ EU nationals, with just 32% of respondents saying management had explained the requirements needed for them to register for UK residence.

ICAS chief executive Bruce Cartwright said: “Members are working hard to ensure that their organisations are ready for whatever transpires, and we will be doing everything we can to help them in this.

“Our major concern, however, is that the clock is ticking down to March 29 and although the UK Government is publishing more guidance, there is very little time left to implement it.”

“We agree with the views expressed by finance professionals about the significant impact and cost of a ‘no deal’ Brexit for the Scottish and British economy.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said: “This latest Brexit tracker survey articulates the concerns of many businesses and professionals across Scotland and the rest of the UK as the Brexit clock ticks towards the UK’s departure from the EU.

“It is clear that there is a great deal at stake for every business. Their voices must be listened to before irreversible decisions are taken. In a recent EY report commissioned by the Scottish Government, all 80 Scottish businesses and trade associations consulted said Brexit-related uncertainty was a major concern – with some of them already reporting increased costs associated with planning for Brexit and negative impacts on investment and recruitment of staff.

“By taking us out of a market around eight times bigger than the UK alone, Brexit – in whatever form – will cost jobs, make people poorer, damage our society and undermine the democratic decision of the people of Scotland to remain in the European Union. A ‘no-deal’ Brexit would be particularly devastating and the UK Government must now take urgent steps to rule out such a scenario.”

A DExEU spokesman said: “The best way to avoid no-deal and give businesses the certainty they need while protecting jobs and the economy would be to agree a deal and leave on March 29.

“This remains our absolute focus and, as the PM has said, it is still within our grasp.

“However, as a responsible Government, we are continuing with our no-deal preparations. We have published 106 technical notices and directly engaged with 145,000 businesses about the steps they should take.”

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