Accountancy firm PwC is maintaining its view that a hard Brexit is the most likely outcome of Britain's departure from the EU.

In its new 'Brexit - Spring 2018 Update' report, PwC said there are significant uncertainties about the withdrawal agreement and the new relationship between the UK and EU.

"While recent progress on the draft Withdrawal Agreement and the proposed EU-UK agreement on a transition period are welcome news, nothing is guaranteed at this point in the process and a hard Brexit remains the most likely outcome," PwC said.  

According to PwC, a hard Brexit would mean that the UK would leave the EU at the end of March 2019 with no future trade agreement, World Trade Organisation tariffs while possible lengthy customs checks at ports and airports would apply. 

It is advising businesses to prepare immediately for such a possible outcome.

"The UK's current unwillingness to consider a Customs Union, and continuing talk of 'cherry-picking' which arrangements it does or does not want to retain, means that a hard Brexit remains too likely for businesses to ignore," commented Feargal O'Rourke, PwC's Ireland Managing Partner.

"The only thing we can be sure of is that disruption and change is inevitable - firms need to prepare now for additional costs, border issues, disruption to supply chains and people mobility issues," Mr O'Rourke said. 

The PwC warning follows similar caution from the Central Bank yesterday, which said that a no-deal scenario could knock 3% off Ireland's GDP and lead to 40,000 job losses.