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Insider UK
Peter A Walker

'Brexit has been tragic for UK business' - BrewDog boss

BrewDog's chief executive has stated that Brexit has significantly hampered his ability to do business.

“Getting beer to customers in Europe has been significantly more difficult,” James Watt told Bloomberg’s Lizzy Burden. “It has massively handicapped UK companies that do business in Europe, with zero benefit at all.”

He commented: “Brexit has had a significant negative impact on our business, which is really tough... getting beer to our customers in Europe is significantly more difficult.

“I think it's been tragic for UK business and a lot of the economic issues the UK is facing - more inflation than other places, being harder to do business, is a result of the catastrophic decision to leave the EU.

“It's really crippled businesses in the UK.“

Watt's comments come amid growing warnings about the impact of Brexit on the economy and UK inflation, which is higher and more stubborn than in the EU.

Last week, former Bank of England governor Mark Carney warned Brexit is causing “a weaker pound, higher inflation and weaker growth“ - with the Office for Budgetary Responsibility forecasting a 4% hit to GDP.

Last month, research from the London School of Economics found Brexit had added £7bn to UK food bills - with households £250 worse off on average. Separately, analysis from Bloomberg Economics found Brexit has cost the UK £100bn a year in lost output.

Watt lambasted the UK Government's “sheer incompetence“ over the last 12 to 18 months, stating that it has made it significantly more costly to produce beer here, adding that it's almost 40% more expensive to make a case of beer than it was 18 months ago.

“That's at a time where consumers have less disposable income, so we've had to absorb the vast majority of that cost increase, which has made things really challenging - we've got to find that margin through efficiencies in our own business“

BrewDog is based in Ellon, the constituency of SNP MP Richard Thompson, who commented: “The Tories and pro-Brexit Labour Party have trashed the UK economy and inflicted long-term damage on businesses and the cost of living - showing why it's essential Scotland escapes Brexit and Westminster control with independence.“

During the Bloomberg interview, Watt said he was not sure about his stance on Scottish independence, adding: “I think there's so many details and so many questions that need to be answered - what's the implications for the European Union, there's not enough information there to make an informed decision, but I am very anti-Brexit, as it's affected our ability to employ people and invest.

“We've grown, but we could have grown significantly more had it not been for Brexit.“

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