Brexit: Business plan to launch for helping companies ahead of UK's break with EU in 50 days' time
The UK Government is launching a business taskforce to help firms prepare for the UK's final break with the EU at the end of the year.
With just over seven weeks to the end of the Brexit transition period, senior Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove acknowledged it was a "challenging time" for business.
The move comes after the National Audit Office warned last week of "significant disruption" at the border whether or not the government was able to secure a free trade deal with Brussels in time for January 1.
Officials said the taskforce, which meets for the first time on Thursday, would allow businesses and senior ministers to discuss potential issues "at pace" as they emerged.
Mr Gove said: "Regardless of the outcome of the UK-EU negotiations, in just 50 days we are leaving the EU single market and customs union and this will bring both new challenges and new opportunities for businesses.
"We recognise that this is a challenging time for everyone, and we are determined to support businesses to be ready for January 1, 2021 and beyond.
"It is only by working together that we will be able to seize the opportunities that await us as we regain our political and economic independence."
The meeting comes as talks on a post-Brexit trade deal were continuing in London today between the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier and his UK counterpart David Frost.
Ireland's foreign minister Simon Coveney has said he expects the negotiations to carry on into next week - although this has yet to be confirmed by either London or Brussels.
Speaking at an event organised by the European Movement on Wednesday, Mr Coveney said that if there was no agreement at some point next week, there would be "real problems".
Prime Minister Boris Johnson insists there is still "a deal to be done", but all sides have acknowledged time is running out if the provisions of an agreement are to be implemented in time for January 1.
Brexit is just 50 days away from happening. New rules for businesses will come into force from January 1, 2021.
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