Next (2)

Leaving the European Union without a deal does not need to be ‘chaotic’ and can be avoided, the boss of Next has said.

Next chief executive, Lord Wolfson, who campaign to leave the EU during the referendum in 2016, believes the UK can leave on 31 October with a deal in place.

However, he told the BBC that the government’s increased focused on no-deal preparations means the country is almost ready.

Lord Wolfson 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.

“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.”

However, he did accept and warn that while the UK government can make all necessary preparations for a no-deal Brexit, if similar preparations are not made on the other side of the border, there will be disruption.

Lord Wolfson also explained that a deal could still be struck with the EU, even at the last minute. He said: “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.”

Next has moved all of its imports and exports away from the port of Calais, a move which has drawn criticism and accusations of hypocrisy, given Lord Wolfson’s confidence that the UK is prepared.