Aylesbury business owner urges 'Brexit rethink' in post Coronavirus trading environment

The managing director of Aston Chemicals Ltd has urged the UK's Government to have a 're-think' about Brexit following the Coronavirus pandemic.

Thursday, 4th June 2020, 7:23 am
Updated Thursday, 4th June 2020, 7:26 am
The managing director of Aston Chemicals Ltd has urged the UK's Government to have a 're-think' about Brexit following the Coronavirus pandemic.

The local business owner has said ending the transition period while international trade and travel is reduced because of the Coronavirus pandemic would be 'a terrible idea' that would cause 'economic catastrophe'.

Dani Loughran said: "Our company imports from all over the world into the UK, and we also export from the UK into the EU.

"Covid-19 has hit UK industry hard, with many factories closing, reducing output or switching from normal production to hand sanitisers and other PPE.

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"This has resulted in a significant reduction in business for UK manufacturers and importers, with the risk that many will suffer severe cashflow problems during 2020, reducing their ability to invest in a post-transition future, or in some cases even to survive."

Loughran has built a successful medium-sized company in Aylesbury distributing chemicals to companies like Estee Lauder. She employs 36 people and has a turnover of £15 million.

Dani Loughran made headlines last year after she challenged Jacob Rees-Mogg on Question Time over Brexit's impact on the chemical industry and medium-sized business owners such as herself. Loughran was not given the chance to respond to Rees-Mogg, despite the inaccuracies in his answer.

Loughran has built a successful medium-sized company in Aylesbury distributing chemicals to companies like Estee Lauder. She employs 36 people and has a turnover of £15 million.

She continued: "Our international trade employs UK people and other UK businesses, pays UK taxes and Customs duties, and brings profits from EU sales into our UK headquarters.

"The end of the transition period will bring new regulatory, tariff and logistical barriers, which we need time and money to manage.

"For example, to maintain our EU sales we must use new warehouses and partners in The Netherlands, and to manage the additional regulatory complexity we must invest in additional personnel.

"We could not do either of these earlier as we had too little certainty regarding the timing of Brexit and the transition period, and in fact if we had, we would now be in a worse cashflow position and less likely to be able to manage the Covid-19 situation.

"But due to Covid-19 travel restrictions we now cannot conduct the critical physical inspections of potential new EU warehouses, and social distancing prevents us from recruiting and onboarding new technical personnel."

She says he effects of Covid-19 and issues like these will leave many UK SME’s with depleted financial resources, reduced cashflow, reduced headcounts due to furloughs and redundancies, and an unavoidable lack of preparation for the costs and complexity that the end of the transition period will bring if the UK refuses to extend beyond 31st December.

Dani continued: These circumstances would be bad enough if the UK were to insist on ending the transition period on 31st December with a reasonable deal with the EU.

"But it seems increasingly likely that the UK government plans to stick to this timing even if this means leaving without a deal, despite the damage this would inevitably cause to the UK economy, our public services and people, and the fact that this is not what was promised throughout the Leave campaign."

"I would therefore ask the UK government to listen to businesses requesting an extension to the transition period.

"Do not hit us with a self-imposed deepening of this crisis when we are already trying to survive and recover from the pandemic. Let us focus on looking after our employees, protecting our businesses, bringing income into the UK, and contributing our UK taxes to support public services while we work through the effects of the pandemic.

"Give the UK time to negotiate sensible EU trade agreements that actually help UK businesses and consumers, give UK SME’s time to prepare for the end of transition properly, and do not turn the current crisis into a lasting catastrophe."

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