Trade will be a “day-to day struggle” after Brexit is completed, MPs have been told, in a bleak forecast from the key aerospace, chemicals and pharmaceuticals industries.
The inquiry heard of massive extra costs, a mountain of red tape, shrinking investment and chemicals “disappearing” from the UK market, from January.
Some medicines may not reach Northern Ireland – if, as feared, extra tests will be required – although it was “very important that patients don’t panic”, it was told.
‘Those facilities [for testing] don’t exist, so it’s not clear how it will happen,” warned Richard Torbett, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry.
Neil Hollis, of the chemical giant BASF, highlighted £1bn of new registration costs, a loss of innovation and some chemicals no longer being available, adding: “There's no positive spin on this.”
And Paul Everitt, chief executive of the ADS Group, the aerospace trade organisation, said: “Whatever happens now, we will be involved in a day-to-day struggle to ensure the goods that we need to see flowing across our borders.”
He said: “It will happen at whatever cost it has to bear – but that obviously shapes and impacts on people’s future investment plans. It’s not a happy place for us to be.”
The grim warnings came hours after the struggling UK car industry suffered another Brexit blow, when the EU rejected a UK plan to avoid export tariffs by circumventing rules-of-origin.
All the sectors will be hit eve if a last-gasp trade deal is struck, because it will not spare domestic producers from the harsh effects of leaving the single market and customs union.