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A No-Deal Brexit Could Spell Tariff-Laden Calamity for the UK’s Fashion Industry

The U.K.’s fashion industry will be pummeled by tariffs should the country engage in a no-deal Brexit at the end of October, the British Fashion Council (BFC) warns.

In an emailed statement obtained by Bloomberg, the trade organization asserted that the controversial political exodus from the European Union could cost the country’s fashion industry 900 million pounds ($1.1 billion) or more.

If the U.K. switches to World Trade Organization rules and imposes tighter regulations on international shipping, the country’s fashion-related businesses will be subject to higher tariffs, the statement said.

According to the BFC, withdrawing from the EU without an agreement in place could have catastrophic implications for the British fashion industry, which generates 32 billion pound ($38.6 billion) annually and employs 890,000 people. The industry relies heavily on international business, supply chain partners and talent, and much of its revenue comes from exports.

“We urge the government to seek a deal with the EU that would guarantee the healthy and steady growth of the fashion industry,” the memo’s writers said before imploring Parliament to consider stimulus funding to bolster British business. Support will be needed, they argued, to ensure the country’s fashion players remain competitors on the global stage once Brexit takes effect.

With London Fashion Week slated to start on Sept. 13, the BFC held a seminar geared toward designers preparing for a post-Brexit world and its new challenges, helping elucidate WTO rules for attendees. The trade organization also offers resources for designers on its website, relating to issues like talent, trade, intellectual property and funding.

On Tuesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit agenda was dealt a heavy blow. A group of conservative members of Parliament voted to seize control of the parliamentary agenda, in a first step toward blocking the country’s scheduled withdrawal from the EU without a deal in place.

According to the BBC, the group of rebel MPs will try on Wednesday to pass a bill preventing the Prime Minister from moving forward with the Oct. 31 exit without a withdrawal agreement.