Amazon issued a dark warning about Brexit creating ‘civil unrest’ in a private meeting with the UK government

Amazon warehouse worker.

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Amazon warehouse worker.
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Reuters/Lucas Jackson

  • Amazon has reportedly warned that if Britain crashes out of the European Union without a trade deal, it could spark “civil unrest” within two weeks.
  • The prediction was made by UK boss Douglas Gurr at a private meeting with the government last Friday, according to The Times.
  • Amazon has consistently said it remains committed to the UK after Brexit and intends to create 2,500 jobs in the country this year.

Amazon made a bleak prediction about Brexit in a behind-closed-doors meeting with the UK government last Friday, according to The Times.

Douglas Gurr, Amazon’s UK country manager, told a meeting of business leaders that if Britain crashes out of the European Union without a trade deal, it will spark “civil unrest” within two weeks.

The meeting was convened by Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, and The Times said Gurr’s comments “stunned those present,” with some disagreeing with his assessment.

Amazon did not address Gurr’s comments directly in a statement to Business Insider. A spokesman said: “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.”

What a no deal Brexit could mean for Amazon

The chances of Britain leaving the EU without a trade deal with the bloc have increased over the past two weeks as Prime Minister Theresa May has struggled to sell her Brexit vision to her own party. It has sparked a wave of resignations, including that of Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary.

May has consistently said that no deal is better than a bad deal, and Raab said this weekend that the UK is making preparations for leaving the EU without a trade agreement in place.

It would mean the country crashes out of Europe on World Trade Organization terms, which could create chaos in terms of Britain’s food and medicine supplies, as well as people’s ability to travel to countries in Europe by plane.

Amazon has consistently said it remains committed to the UK after Brexit. Only last month, Gurr said Amazon will create 2,500 jobs in Britain this year, taking its total workforce in the country to 27,500. This includes 650 head office roles.

“The UK is a fantastic place to do business,” he said a press briefing, according to The Guardian. “We are trying to make sure all the businesses that work with us can continue to operate effectively … We don’t yet know exactly what the rules [on trading after Brexit] are going to be. We will wait and see what happens and adapt as necessary.”

Amazon’s supply chain could be impacted by a no deal Brexit and any downturn in consumer spending would be damaging. Amazon could also be well positioned, however, potentially benefiting from customers looking for cheaper goods.