Amazon stands by 'civil unrest' Brexit prediction
Cambridge-based country manager raises concerns over 'no-deal' Brexit
Amazon’s Cambridge-based UK country manager, Doug Gurr, was at the centre of a Brexit storm after allegedly claiming a no-deal situation could result in “civil unrest” within days of leaving the EU next March.
The firm today was not attempting to retract or deny the statement.
The comment was allegedly made at a meeting of business leaders hosted by Brexit secretary Dominic Raab at Chevening, a Kent country house owned by the government. Others at the Brexit-flavoured gathering included Barclays chairman, Sir Ian Cheshire; the chief executive of Lloyd’s of London, Dame Inga Beale; the UK chair of Shell, Sinead Lynch and Andy Higginson, the chairman of supermarket chain Morrisons.
A report in The Times said Mr Gurr’s comments “stunned those present”. Morrisons has been contacted for clarification. A no-deal Brexit is increasingly alarming businesses because it would mean that the UK would leave the EU with no agreement on any future trading relationship.
When asked to clarify its position, Amazon stated: “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. This is not specific to any one issue — it’s the way we plan for any number of issues around the world.”
Amazon is not the only firm trading in the UK to be concerned about the political impasse.
“We remain concerned by the danger of a hard (‘no-deal’) Brexit in March 2019,” RyanAir 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.”
Aerospace giant Airbus and car maker Jaguar Land Rover have also warned that a hard Brexit could impact on investment and jobs in the UK. However, the Amazon comment significantly increases the pressure on the political classes to reach a settled position on what sort of Brexit the nation is heading towards - just as Parliament is about to take its summer recess.