Next CEO: No-deal Brexit would only cause ‘mild disruption’

Next CEO Lord Simon Wolfson has said a no-deal Brexit would only cause "mild disruption" despite previously warning that the situation would bring about "chaos and disorder".

Speaking with the BBC Today programme, Wolfson said he still hoped a deal could be reached before 31 October, and that an increased focus on contingency planning by Boris Johnson’s government meant the country was close to being well prepared. The chance of goods being held up was also far less likely due to simplified customs and border procedures, he said.

"We are a long way from disorder and chaos, the fact that HMRC has introduced these transition methods will make an enormous difference. I think the encouraging thing is that we are rapidly moving from the disorder and chaos camp to the well-prepared camp,” the Next boss said. "I should stress that I would much prefer a deal to no deal, but I am much less frightened by no deal if the government is prepared, and there is every indication it's taking it more seriously.”

Wolfson said he still hoped the UK would be able to leave the EU with a deal on the 31 October. "In the vast majority of deals I've done, if the deadline is midnight, the deal gets done at 11:55 but we need to have nerves of steel and prepare ourselves for either outcome."

Wolfson, who was a strong advocate of Brexit in the run-up to the 2016 referendum, also criticised the Brexit preparation of the last government, led by Theresa May. "There was a wilful attempt to not prepare. They were so scared of no deal they couldn't allow anyone to admit it could happen. That's changing and I think that means in the worst case you get mild disruption - in the best case - you get a deal,” he said.

Photo credit: Next media gallery


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