New research from the Scottish Chambers of Commerce shows a high number of Scottish firms are not ready for a no-deal Brexit. We have consistently called on government to avoid a messy and disorderly exit from the EU. But with still no end in sight to political turmoil which continues to relentlessly churn up uncertainty, it is the duty of Government to provide clearer and more consistent information to help businesses in Scotland and throughout the UK prepare.

The survey of companies – from the smallest to the largest and across a range of sectors - found conflicting political messages over the likelihood of no deal and gaps in government guidance, half (50%) of Scottish businesses have not done a Brexit risk assessment. Those that trade internationally (50%) are more likely to have carried out a risk assessment on the impact of Brexit to their business than their counterparts that trade in the UK only (39%).

This represents a welcome increase on when we surveyed business last year when as many as 67% per cent had not carried out a Brexit assessment. But with just weeks until a potential no deal exit, there is still a sizeable proportion of firms that aren’t in a position to prepare for the impact.

Political turbulence and ongoing uncertainty about the final outcome of the Brexit process is hampering business planning, making it impossible for firms to know what to prepare for. While there has been an increase in the guidance available from government on conditions in a no-deal, the advice needs to be clearer and more consistent. In many critical areas, such as regulations, customs and trading in Northern Ireland, there is still a lack of practical information on which firms can plan.

In a no deal scenario, firms that trade with European Union will face new customs procedures at the border. However, low levels of awareness around special customs and trade schemes are of particular concern, as this highlights the potential for disruption at borders in an unwanted no-deal situation. The chamber network has campaigned successfully for the government to automatically issue European Union registration and identification numbers, which are critical for trading across borders, to all VAT-registered businesses. Now, we are calling on HM Government to either automatically enrol or support businesses to access these other important customs and border facilitations.

We also urge all companies – not just those trading across borders – to consider the potential impact of Brexit on their operations. Scotland and UK-only businesses will face impacts linked to their own suppliers and customers, or to changes elsewhere in the economy, and should take steps to assess these.

Yet again, our evidence reinforces the importance of the UK averting a chaotic exit from the European Union.

Liz Cameron is chief executive at the Scottish Chambers of Commerce.