No deal better than uncertainty, says head of German industry

Dieter Kempf, the chairman of the Bundesverbandes der Deutschen Industrie, said the 100,000 companies he represents and their 8 million employees have prepared for a no-deal scenario in March, not in May.

Speaking in the wake of the British prime minister’s suggestion that the UK could request a two-month Brexit delay, Kempf told the Dutch newspaperHet Financieele Dagblad that he felt no relief at the apparent U-turn by Theresa May.

He said: “Everything is better than a chaotic Brexit. But is procrastination good? No. Uncertainty is bad for the economy. If we talk about a period of two and a half weeks, it is good if we avoid a hard Brexit.

“But what will change in three to four weeks? The British House of Commons knows very well what it does not want, but not what it wants. It cannot decide. The British are lost, they can’t find the way to the exit. That makes it difficult for a negotiating partner.”

German companies had been working on a spring deadline for their no-deal plans, Kemp said. “They have increased their storage capacity. They have planned a transition period for the reorganisation of logistics processes without loss of production. Now there would be a delay until May. What do they do then? My experience is that the economy can live better with bad conditions than with uncertainty.”

May has said that she will allow a possible extension of article 50 to be put before parliament should her deal be voted down again on 12 March.