No-deal Brexit risks 'civil unrest', warns Amazon's UK boss

Doug Gurr reportedly made comment in meeting with the Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab

Amazon’s UK boss has warned the Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, that Britain would face “civil unrest” within weeks of a no-deal Brexit, adding the online retailer’s voice to a growing list of businesses expressing concerns.

Doug Gurr, the retail giant’s UK manager, reportedly made the comment during a meeting between Raab and a group of senior business executives on Friday.

Amazon declined to confirm whether Gurr had made the remarks, reported in the Times, but admitted it was planning for a wide range of outcomes.

“Like any business, we consider a wide range of scenarios in planning discussions so that we’re prepared to continue serving customers and small businesses who count on Amazon, even if those scenarios are very unlikely,” a spokesperson said.

“This is not specific to any one issue – it’s the way we plan for any number of issues around the world.”

The Guardian has approached Amazon for further clarification.

A No 10 spokeswoman played down suggestions that there could be civil unrest in the event of no deal: “Where is the evidence to suggest that would happen?” She said the most likely outcome of negotiations was that an agreement that was mutually beneficial to the EU and the UK.

Gurr reportedly issued the warning during a summit of business leaders hosted by Raab at Chevening, a Kent country house used by the government.

Other business leaders attending included the Barclays chairman, Sir Ian Cheshire; the chairman of the supermarket chain Morrisons, Andy Higginson; the chief executive of Lloyd’s of London, Dame Inga Beale; and the UK chair of Shell, Sinead Lynch.

Amazon is among a number of businesses to warn about the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, in which the UK leaves the EU without an agreement in place governing matters such as trade tariffs.

Several major employers, including the aerospace giant Airbus and the UK’s largest carmaker Jaguar Land Rover, have warned they could be forced to move jobs and investment overseas.

The no-frills airline Ryanair said on Monday it believed there was a significant chance of a no-deal scenario.

“We remain concerned by the danger of a hard (‘no-deal’) Brexit in March 2019,” the Dublin-based carrier said in a statement. “While there is a view that a 21-month transition agreement from March 2019 to December 2020 will be implemented (and extended), recent events in the UK political sphere have added to this uncertainty and we believe that the risk of a hard Brexit is being underestimated.”

Fresh anxiety among UK businesses emerged days after Raab accused Brussels of being irresponsible for flagging up the risks to EU nationals living in Britain from a no-deal Brexit.

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In an interview on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Raab described a document published by Brussels last week that highlighted the risk of the UK leaving the EU without an agreement as “obviously an attempt to try and ramp up the pressure”.

He also dismissed a Sun story saying the government was planning to stockpile processed food in case of a no-deal Brexit.

He at first denied it, before adding: “That kind of selective snippet that makes it into the media, to the extent that the public pay attention to it, I think is unhelpful.”


Rob Davies

The GuardianTramp

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