Category Archives: Business

Small business chat update – Jane Badger

Small business chat update – Jane Badger

Sorry it’s coffee time with a slightly delayed update with Jane Badger from Jane Badger proofreading and editing. Fellow-editor AND pony book fan Jane’s been with the interview series since November 2013 and we updated for the first time in December 2014, January 2016, February 2017, and February 2018 – the slight slippage this time has been down to me and the fact that we wanted to wait until a certain exciting book link was live. In 2018, this was Jane’s plan: I hope I’ll have managed to get Heroines on Horseback back out into the world, and the new website, too! It’s frustrating to be so close but have to rely on other people to achieve what I want. But balanced against that is the fact that the end result will be much better than anything I could have done on my own. I’m also hoping that I’ll have been able to focus on new writing. My plan for this year is to do less corporate and editing work for other people and carve out more time for me to write. It’s so very easy to do stuff for other people which pays within weeks rather than spend the time doing my own stuff, the payoff for which is months, if not years, down the line! So, I’m hoping that I will have an income stream from my books, have a sensible plan to develop it further, and have acquired a couple more clients.”

Hello again, Jane! So, are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year and a bit ago?

In a slightly different place! My own book, “Heroines on Horseback – the Pony Book in Children’s Literature” is now (at last) on pre-order, and I’ve started up a new business re-publishing pony books. The idea behind this has been the same as producing my own book: having a separate income stream to editing and proofreading.

The plan to develop publishing further wasn’t one I’d initially thought of taking. This has been a massive learning curve. I can proofread, so that’s a huge help, but I’ve also had to negotiate contracts, design covers, and do marketing.

That is helped by the fact my new pony books website is finally out there, and I’m slowly migrating all the information on the old site over to it. It’s mobile-friendly and vastly more up to date, and has also managed to take my new publishing venture in its stride. The website has had a difficult birth, but was certainly worth it once it arrived.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I’m still working for my existing clients, and have another regular one I really enjoy working with. I now feel I have a rather better work balance, which is good business sense as if one element goes bung, I do still have the others. I compartmentalise so that when I’m proofreading or editing I’m proofreading or editing, and I have dedicated publishing time.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

I have learned how to publish. There is a lot of help out there: the trick is in finding, amongst all the noise, the things that are helpful to you.

Don’t be afraid to ask. I have found that the things that have been really useful have come about because I approached someone with a question on something quite different.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Don’t be afraid to leap in another direction, but do your research before you do, and be realistic. If you don’t have expertise in a particular area, either get yourself trained or buy in expertise. Talk to people who do know what they’re doing. I know I lack PR and marketing expertise, so this was one thing I made sure I budgeted to buy in. Rhiannon of Garnet PR got all sorts of coverage I’d never have been able to, and she also helped me out a lot with my social media and improving that.

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

I’m hoping that I will have (finally) upgraded my membership of the Society of Editors and Proofreaders, having done the necessary training. I’m also planning to have got a solid base of books out there available as both eBooks and paperback books. I’m only just starting the paperback process, and that’s another learning curve. I’d like to have found myself some time for writing, which has been a casualty of all this!

Or if not writing, having some free time. Doing nothing very much.

I’ve been ridiculously excited about the pony book republishing project and as soon as I’ve got some space in my reading schedule and TBR shelf I’m going to be snapping up some of those paperbacks and sharing about them over on my personal blog. This is such an exciting move for Jane. I thought I was being brave, branching out into transcription about seven years ago!!

eBooks page:
pre-order for Heroines on Horseback:

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 

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Posted by on June 15, 2019 in Business, Small Business Chat


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Student at risk of plagiarism 3: Giving feedback to your student client and their supervisor

text with tracked changesWhat do you do when you detect a risk of plagiarism in a student text and you need to give feedback to the student and possibly their supervisor? How do you stop a student feeling accused? How do you get confirmation from the supervisor that what you’re doing is acceptable by their institution?

In this post for editors working with student texts, I share the good practice I’ve developed over my ten years in operation when dealing with the two kinds of plagiarism I encounter in student work:

  • Plagiarism conducted directly by a student who does not reference or credit quotations, results and theories (therefore passing other people’s work off as their own)
  • Plagiarism that arises when you as the editor are doing far too many corrections and effectively risking co-writing the text (therefore risking the student passing your work off as their own)

I will write about these two risks of plagiarism in two further articles which I will link to here when they’re published. I’m publishing this one first to avoid leaving readers who are reading along dangling, as this article covers both types of plagiarism and is referenced at the ends of both articles as the end point of their processes.

What do I do if I encounter or risk enabling plagiarism?

Once I’ve realised a text is at risk of plagiarism (and in my experience, both kinds often come together in a text), I will follow these levels of action/escalation:

  1. Stop working on the text*
  2. Contact the student client immediately
    1. Explain what the problem is
    2. Offer solutions the client can use (go through the text, find where you’re missing references or need to show direct quotes/reference and insert those, etc.)
  3. The student client will get back to me with one of two answers
    1. “I will amend the text and send it back to you”. If that happens, great, and if they’ve done it correctly, I carry on working on the text
    2. “It’s OK, just rewrite the direct quotes”/”Just make the changes to my sentences, my tutor says it’s OK”. If that happens, I go to step 4
  4. It’s time to stop the work or ask for contact from the supervisor:
    1. If 3. i has occurred, I reiterate that the student must write direct quotes in their own words and I can’t do that for them. If an impasse is reached, I state I cannot work on the text any more and invoice the student client.**
    2. If 3. ii has occurred, I ask the student to provide me with evidence that their supervisor has approved the level of work I need to do on the text
      1. I send the student the text that I have amended so far, asking them to present that to their supervisor (I might in an extreme case save this as a PDF to prevent them accepting all changes and then just going and using someone else for the next part)
      2. I ask for either a letter from the tutor on headed paper OR a direct email from the supervisor instructing me to do this work. I leave this up to the student to do. This helps them not feel I’m reporting on them (as I say in Part 2, this is often down to stress, pressure or lack of understanding rather than explicit wrongdoing) and it saves me having to try to contact the supervisor myself.
  5. Depending on what I hear from the supervisor, conclude the work relationship or continue working:
    1. If I hear back from the supervisor in the negative, I stop work, invoice the client and keep the letter from the supervisor for a period of time
    2. If I hear back that I can continue, I continue with the work, present it to the client and save the tutor’s letter with the work files

* I have a statement in my terms and conditions that I will invoice for any work done before I detect plagiarism. I charge by the word, so I check the word count and invoice based on that.

** I will always suggest to the student that they contact their student support services, often attached to their department or library, who can give help with language issues and referencing procedures. I see my role as helping, not blaming or punishing the student for their mistake.

This article has outlined what I do to provide feedback to the student client and their supervisor when I encounter plagiarism in student work. My resources this website about plagiarism are listed below. Do comment if you use another good method or have used this one with success.

Related posts on this blog:

Student at risk of plagiarism 1: When the referencing is missing

Student at risk of plagiarism 2: When the editor is at risk of doing too much

Plagiarism in business texts

On plagiarism

How to quote sources without plagiarising

Referencing for academic writing

Choosing a proofreader – student edition

My terms and conditions

Why has my proofreader not edited my bibliography?

On (not) crossing the line


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Small business chat update – Paul Alborough / Professor Elemental

Small business chat update – Paul Alborough / Professor Elemental

My old friend Paul is, amazingly enough, Professor Elemental. and I think of him whenever I go to Moorgate Overground as we used to get the train together to work, him writing lyrics on an A4 pad, me reading, I presume. Now he’s got a brand, records, comics, a tea brand, a novel and more. I persuaded him to join this series in February 2013, catching up in February 2014 and February 2015, March 2016, March 2017, and March 2018 (it’s completely my fault that this one has scooted through the year!) – and his interviews have been some of the most entertaining I’ve done so do have a click through the past ones if you have the time! When I asked the Prof where he wanted to be by now back in March last year, he replied, “Is it possible to maintain a small business without expanding and ruining what made it good or shrinking so it becomes untenable? Can a creative business remain contented without losing its spark? Why didn’t I spend the previous 5 years taking the train to shows instead of the car? Find out the answers to these questions and probably less in exactly 365 days’ time … “ So, let’s find out those answers, 365 plus a few days later!

Hello Paul, and I’m adding your bonus paragraphs in here first because you are always entertaining!

Hmmmmm. Well. I mean, I’m not sure I learned that much in the last year. Although my aim was largely to see if I could do less work for the same results, which hasn’t worked out at all. Just by virtue of saying an enthusiastic YES to talented people who have offered to work with me, I’m doing more than ever. But it’s pretty fun stuff, so I am not complaining.

So apart from being able to answer the question of whether or not it’s possible to stay contented (Spoiler alert: it is), it’s quite possible that my answers will be less help than ever this year.

The big question then: Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Not at all. I’d aimed to find a sweet spot between ‘successul creative business’ and ‘semi retired man’ and this has not panned out in the slightest. On the other hand, I am riding a wave of more exciting creative projects than I ever thought possible, so semi retirement will have to wait.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

Still performing in more shows than you could shake a stick at, while juggling a plethora of Professor projects across every conceivable media. It’s all much the same sort of thing, except I’ve moved up a gear and I’m also trying to find ways for my work to do more good (via charity projects and the like)

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

Very little. If anything I think I might have unlearned some stuff. There’s every chance that I am regressing and by the time we do this in a decade I will just be uttering vowel sounds and grunting.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Writing books takes a lot longer than you think, boylesque can show you things you never wanted to see, overconfidence leads to a terrible live show, libraries are awesome (and so are the people who work in them), hackers and coders run the world, never drink with a German elf, Dutch fairies can be surprisingly strict, Portuguese Steampunks are as lovely as everywhere else, Patreon is a creative person’s best friend, Swansea has some really good tea shops, Hip Hop is still the best genre of any music and never underestimate the value of 8 hours’ sleep on your body and mind.

Love these, as always! And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

This year has been about starting work on so many things- so next year, I’d love to see some of those things come to fruition. From an animated cartoon, to several books, there are so many projects I cant wait to finish. And music too, I really should make some more of that.

I do always love the Prof’s hints and tips and I hope you’ve all taken careful note! What a wonderful career to follow, and of course doing good as he goes, too. I’m privileged to know this chap and be able to share his chap hop with a bit more of the world.

Here’s Paul’s Professor Elemental Patreon page, and do pop and have a look at his website, You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter, of course. His School of Whimsy album is out now, and do search for him on YouTube, too, to get the flavour of his wonderful videos.

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured. If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 

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Posted by on June 8, 2019 in Business, Small Business Chat


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Small business update – Yvonne Donald

Small business update – Yvonne Donald

I’m thrilled to say it’s hello again to Yvonne Donald from the rather marvellous cake company, Kake and Cupkakery. Yvonne’s first interview was in September 2012, and we had catch-ups in in October 2013 and then November 2014, January 2016, January 2017 and March 2018. Yvonne is still going strong, being careful in what she does and now carving out some essential free time for herself, something that small business owners find it very hard to do! When we last spoke, this was Yvonne’s plan for the year: “Bigger and better so that hopefully I can seriously make a move to work full-time in the business. This business is self-evolving – I plan but things never go to plan so I set myself small goals. Within the next year ideally I want or rather need a bigger space to work, so I think for this year I either need to think of extending or looking for a separate kitchen/workshop space, but I will continue to seek out opportunities and increase sales even more.” So, is that what panned out?

Hello, Yvonne, great to chat with you again. Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

My first thought was what have I done in 2018 but when I look back it wasn’t too bad!
I think in all reality yes, I am where I thought I’d be. I decided that as much as it would be nice to work in my biz full time and have a store front, the level of uncertainty, especially with Brexit looming, makes me twitchy as well as a few cake makers deciding to cease their business, so I’m still doing my FT job but now I cap cake orders to make sure everything is manageable.In other words, I’m not being a busy fool because my pricing is right, so fewer cake orders but the same if not more income from the cakes I do, because I value my skills and time and so do my lovely customers My biz runs very well online, I’ve done a lot of SEO work on my website and so running the biz online is how it will stay for now.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

Early 2018 I analysed my biz and looked at all aspects of the business, especially pricing. My prices have increased across the board due to price increases on food and non food products. It had to be done: I lost 1 or 2 customers but gained more than expected.

I’ve become even  stricter in my processes: I now have a dedicated day for admin and non-negotiable days off which is fab, also contact times so I now have even clearer boundaries in running my biz and having some downtime.

Some of my product lines have changed due to changes in trends and I’m getting more requests for gluten free and vegan which is a sign of the times and emerging trends. One of these is for fewer sugar paste cakes, more buttercream cakes (who knew!).

My brand is still growing and running itself (if that makes sense). I’ve got myself a little merchandise going on which increases my brand awareness, which is great after the rebrand.

My most exciting times were that I was asked to speak on BBC Radio West Midlands discussing black women in business with two other panellists, wrote two articles for Baker Magazine, and won another award from Jacqueline Gold, so regarding exposure it wasn’t a bad year!

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

I continue with my mantra of saying yes to things and figuring it out later. I was commissioned to bake 850 cupcakes for a cocktail bar launch in Brum. My kitchen isn’t the biggest but I sought out a kitchen to bake in and I managed to deliver – so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Any more hints and tips for people?

* If you have a website, work on your SEO, as it helps so much in helping customers to find you [here’s an article I wrote on SEO that might help – Liz].

* Don’t think increasing prices necessarily means losing customers: those that value you will stay and are your customers, those that don’t are not.

* Seek out those opportunities, Twitter is great for this so always put yourself forward and challenge yourself.

* Get strict with your time: I’ve sacrificed so much but now with firm boundaries I feel more in control. After all, we all deserve some downtime.

* Understand your niche and follow your own path, don’t always feel you have to do what everyone else does. If certain products or services don’t work or you don’t like doing them don’t be afraid to let them go and switch focus.

* Ask for help. My sister and nephew have been great in helping with deliveries and admin and saved me so much time.

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

To keep the brand awareness strong .To keep offering fab cake, maintain a strong customer base, increase sales and maybe collaborate with similar small business and overall continue to enjoy and be happy in what I do.

I try to plan but nothing goes to plan so let’s just see where my destiny takes me!

I’m so impressed by Yvonne’s tenacity and ability to keep those boundaries and manage her time. It’s wonderful to see her cake brand going from strength to strength and watching her tread that line between following ALL the trends and keeping to what she excels at. Best of luck for the next year!

Twitter @Cupkakery
Phone: 07837 876604

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Small business chat update – Matt Rose

Small business chat update – Matt Rose

It’s small business chat update time and it’s always interesting featuring my friend Gill’s clever and enterprising son, Matt Rose of Prestige Quoting Limited. I first interviewed Matt in April 2016, when he’d just set up in business. We then updated things in April 2017 and March 2018 (he’d just had some good news then so I did it early) and here we are again, checking whether he is indeed where he hoped he’d be by now, which was … “Hopefully maintaining steady state. With my first baby on the way, I’m not quite sure what to expect and how this will impact my business. With my Wife able to take a year in maternity leave and supportive grandparents, I’m hoping the business won’t be affected too much. A lot of my clients have been able to give advice and, due to my good relationship with them, will be very understanding if I can’t reply in the timeframes they’re accustomed to. I think a key is to set expectations from the outset.”

Hello again! Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

I’m pleased to say that the business is still going and has maintained steady state from the previous 12 months. This means being able to support my family, maintain a comfortable lifestyle and allow Loraine (my wife) to take a full year off work.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

Well, running a small business can often lead to a fair amount of give and take. With my young boy now on the scene, managing client expectations prior to his arrival was something I felt was very important. I’m fortunate in that a lot of the business owners I work with already have children and totally understood my scenario and were very understanding indeed.

For 3 days a week, I’m working away from my home office. This has proven to increase my productivity and mean that, for those 3 days at least, I’m not tempted to work into the evening.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

Being an owner of a small business (it’s still just me, and I don’t have plans/desires for that to change), managing client expectations is even more important than I thought.

By setting an appropriate out of office response, having a 3rd party call handler (I use Moneypenny) I had almost no issue with my limited availability post Jude’s birth.

I did have one client raise a bit of a fuss when I didn’t answer the phone the day after Jude’s arrival. I must confess in that I wasn’t too unhappy to see them decide to work with another company going forward. It certainly showed it was time to reassess that relationship.

Any more hints and tips for people? 

I’ve begun actively asking for testimonials/case studies post completion of a project. This gives me areas to think about for improvement and also, often, gives the opportunity to celebrate what you’ve brought to a client.

It’s interesting to get the perception of your work from a client’s point of view and can help guide any changes you may need to make.

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

As we continue to adjust to family life and new ways of working, my ‘target’ is to continue to maintain the level of business as the previous 12 months.

I’m so glad things have worked so well for Matt and it’s refreshing to read about a man’s work-life balance when a baby comes along, as it’s much more common for women to be asked about this. His plan for working outside the home office three days a week is a great one – even with “only” a house to run, I find myself interrupted by deliveries and laundry organising some days and would love to be spirited to another place! And asking for testimonials is a great idea, and something to use to attract new customers, as well. Are you a chap who runs a business from home and how did you cope with childcare arrangements?

Matt Rose’s website is at and you can email him or phone him on 07490 096232

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 

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Posted by on May 25, 2019 in Business, Small Business Chat


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Happy birthday to me! (or, rather, to my business)

Happy birthday to me! (or, rather, to my business)

Although I issued my first invoice in August 2009 (and so will be celebrating in August, too), when I set up as self-employed, I matched my financial years to the UK’s financial years, to make everything easier, and so Libro officially started in April 2009. I cannot believe I’ve been going ten years, though – that astounds me.

Originally, after a lot of experience working on various types of texts through my working life (see About Me for more information), I was approached by one of my colleagues at the university library where I worked to see if I could edit their student’s Master’s dissertation. I said yes, did it, and instigated a string of lovely referrals. For the rest of that year, I mainly worked on dissertations for people whose English wasn’t their first language (I still do that today, although I work on more PhDs now).

I was lucky enough to have a fairly routine job and flexitime, so with a lot of time management and hard work, no holidays and an understanding then-boyfriend (now-husband), I worked part time editing and full time in the library through 2010. Then in 2011 I made the decision to go part time at the day job, after making sure I was replacing my wages with my self-employed income. I came off the Certificate of Low Earnings (which lets people who don’t earn much from their self-employment not pay national insurance: something I only did because I was paying NI through my PAYE in the job). Later that year I dropped a second day of the day job and in November 2011 I resigned, starting full-time self-employment in January 2012 (at which point I got jury service for the first two weeks of January!).

It’s been a lovely part of my working life and one I hope never to leave. I have a reasonable amount of flexibility, working alone at home (but with lots of friends a Facebook messenger message or “meet me at the cafe!” request away). My earnings went up and then stabilised, I had a good year last year and I’m aiming to work a bit less this year to retain my flexibility. I’m grateful to my lovely clients, some of whom have been with me almost from the very beginning, and I now edit, proofread, localise and transcribe, so I have a lovely variety of work, from helping academics record the voices of their interviewees to sorting out philosophers’ words and making sure British people understand American companies. Here’s to the next ten years!

And to celebrate, I added two chunks to my Kiva portfolio and, with the repayments I had sitting in my account, made three loans to three entrepreneurial women around the globe:

  • loan Rosa
    Honiara, Solomon Islands

    A loan helps to buy bags of rice, biscuits, soft drinks, and noodles for her canteen (general store) business.


  • loan Jivtiben
    Kutch, India

    A loan helps to purchase kurtas, sarees, leggings, etc., to expand her clothing business.


  • loan Mwanaisha
    Makumbusho-Dar es salaam, Tanzania

    A loan helps to add stock of braids, weaves, earrings, necklaces, hair food, hair pegs, and hair treatments.



Posted by on April 18, 2019 in Business, Celebration


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When you see businesses being criticised for not being prepared for Brexit, this is why some of us are not prepared for Brexit

So having had lots of emails telling me how to export goods to the EU in the event of a no-deal Brexit, I tried once again to find out what happens to tax arrangements for people who export services. I’m by no means the only UK person in this situation. Please note I do not expect them to have all the answers, however it would be nice to know if this issue has been discussed, what to do if there’s no deal, etc. I think I am right to want to know how to conduct my business after Brexit, especially given the government, etc. reports detailing the horror of companies NOT being prepared! (Financial Times reports, for example)

Here is my somewhat Kafkaesque conversation over live chat with a representative of HMRC (I checked and it is OK to share this, see below).

[Note, I seem rude to start without saying hello but you’re told to enter your question first!]

LIZ DEXTER: Are the reciprocal tax arrangements between the EU and UK going to continue?
Additional detail: I provide services to EU clients. Currently, I only need state I pay self-assessment taxes to HMRC in the UK, or occasionally need to provide my UTR to prove this, in order for companies to pay me my full invoice and not tax me at source. However, some countries insist on further
paperwork (e.g. a client in Lithuania asked me to get an HMRC employee to sign a letter for them stating I paid tax in the UK). Is this situation being
monitored over the time of Brexit and how can I find out what’s happening?

HMRC: Good afternoon

LIZ DEXTER: Note: I have signed up for all the email alerts, but they are solely about companies that export and import goods, not services. There’s nothing I can find having read the WTO rules which we revert to with a no-deal Brexit. And hello.

HMRC: There is no further information I can give you regarding leaving the EU other than what’s available on

LIZ DEXTER: There’s no information on about this specific situation that I can find. Can you point me towards any information for exporters of services, not goods, please?
The reason I ask this is that the Ease of Doing Business if I have to get an HMRC employee to sign a paper for every client I had will badly adversely affect my business (and the tax I’ll pay in the UK!).

HMRC: Give me a moment whilst a check my guidance.

LIZ DEXTER: OK thank you.

HMRC: I don’t have any guidance I can give you. It just tells me to direct you to guidance published on

LIZ DEXTER: Which doesn’t have anything to do with exporting services at all. OK it’s not your fault but can you please feed back that there are so many people in my position, I have EU customers asking me how they’re going to deal with me post-Brexit, whether they can continue to use my services. It’s embarrassing and very stressful. Or HOW they can continue to use my services.

LIZ DEXTER: Is it permissible to share my download of this chat with other self-employed people or my clients?

HMRC: I will feed that back. Sorry but at this time we don’t have the information you require.

HMRC: Yes that’s fine.

LIZ DEXTER:  Thank you. And I appreciate your help and that
you’ve done all you can.

REFERENCE: Record of your HMRC webchat [url redacted, can be provided upon request]


Posted by on March 28, 2019 in Brexit, Business


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