Charities ‘unprepared’ for a no-deal Brexit

Charities have stepped up their lobbying of the Prime Minister Boris Johnson over his strategy for leaving the EU, warning him of their “grave concerns” over a no-deal Brexit.

A group of 85 voluntary sector and public body leaders have written an open letter to Johnson warning him that they, along with businesses and communities in the UK, are not prepared for the UK leaving the EU at the end of October without a deal.

They are concerned that a no-deal Brexit means there is not enough time to replace EU regulatory bodies, which oversee a raft of areas including the environment and animal welfare.

Johnson is urged to ensure he engages with charity leaders across the UK during the Brexit process.

This week Johnson announced that parliament would be suspended for five weeks, raising the likelihood that the UK will run out of time for a post Brexit deal with the EU.

The civil society organisations and leaders signing the letter include ACEVO chief executive Vicky Browning, Just Right Scotland director Jen Ang and Poverty Alliance director Peter Kelly.

The letter states: “As civil society organisations working with citizens and communities across the UK, we are writing to express our grave concerns about the risk of leaving the EU without an agreement as the 31st October is rapidly approaching.

“A growing body of evidence shows that a no-deal Brexit would be detrimental to civil society and the communities that we work with. The uncertainty, the predicted economic shock, the prospect of legal uncertainty as well as the regression in rights and standards present a profound risk to the values civil society stands for.

It adds: “Business, civil society and communities across the UK are not ready for a no-deal exit.

“There is not enough time to replace EU agencies that monitor and ensure compliance with the law, potentially resulting in food standards, environmental and animal welfare regulations not being sufficiently enforced.

“Legislation to accommodate a no-deal scenario will be rushed through Parliament with little to no scrutiny from MPs and civil society. Neither is there enough time to put in place the necessary common frameworks to guarantee that devolution is respected.

“Civil society faces the same Brexit related impacts and uncertainties as business, and yet we have not had adequate support, resources and engagement from the government. We urge you to better engage with civil society, including across the devolved nations, throughout the next stages of the Brexit process.

“Leaving the EU without an agreement will have drastic and wide-ranging implications for citizens and communities, who deserve to be heard.”

Acevo’s Browning is among 13 charity leader signatories to a separate open letter to government, criticising the decision to suspend parliament ahead of the Brexit deadline in October.

This was also released this week and says that Johnson’s decision “risks eroding democratic accountability”.

It stresses that charities have a vital democratic role in UK society, which is being restricted by the proroguing of parliament.

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