Businesses in Cumbria who trade with the EU have been urged to take immediate action in readiness for a no-deal Brexit – even though MPs have voted to rule it out.

In an unprecedented step, Cumbria Chamber of Commerce boss Rob Johnston has written to the hundreds of businesses on its database advising them to urgently step-up preparations.

The message of urgency is specifically targeted at businesses that import from or export to the EU.

On Wednesday, MPs voted narrowly in favour of rejecting a no-deal Brexit under any circumstances.

However, Downing Street has confirmed that the Government is still preparing for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit – and chamber chief executive Mr Johnston, said businesses need to follow suit.

“We are concerned that businesses might be misled by reports that MPs have ruled out a no-deal Brexit,” he said.

“It remains the legal default position unless Parliament either approves a withdrawal agreement or revokes Article 50 to stay in the EU permanently. It could happen on March 29.

“In that event customs declarations, export documents and Certificates of Origin will be required for EU trade.

“We know from our recent Brexit-preparedness survey that many Cumbrian business simply aren’t ready.

“Our biggest concern is that thousands of businesses have yet to apply for an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number.

“This will be needed to import from or export to the EU. It typically takes three days to get an EORI number although that may increase if demand soars.”

The letter also directs businesses to the Brexit Insight section on the Cumbria Business Growth Hub website, with Mr Johnston describing it as “the most comprehensive resources for Brexit planning available anywhere”.

Visit to see the section, which is updated daily.

The urgent warning for action comes after another evening of high drama on Brexit.

MPs have voted by a majority of 211 (413 for and 202 against) for Prime Minister Theresa May to ask for an extension of Article 50 and delay Britain leaving the European Union until after the original March 29 target date.

The EU needs to agree to the delay, which Mrs May said could run until June 30, if MPs back her Brexit deal next week.

The controversial deal was voted down for a second time on Tuesday evening.

And in another twist, MPs voted to rule out a second referendum or so called ‘people’s vote’.