UK business needs ‘ocean of answers’on Brexit

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Following Prime Minister Theresa May‘s recent announcement of the 12 objectives for Brexit negotiations has answered some questions but there remains an ocean of answers required by British business.

The calculation we are trying to make is will businesses be better or worse off after Brexit? The answer to that will still be elusive in most British boardrooms.

Certainty, control, clarity

In her Brexit speech, May said she understood that certainty was important to businesses and pledged to provide “as much certainty as possible” throughout the negotiations. May also set out plans to “take back control of our laws”, which will be interpreted by UK judges, rather than the European Court of Justice.
The sterling reacted well to what was seen as a clearer roadmap, and the government’s intention ‘to provide business, the public sector, and everybody with as much certainty as possible as we move through the process’ is to be welcomed. While respecting the democratic process, allowing parliament to vote on the final deal agreed with the EU could open the possibility that the deal could be rejected.

Immigration, EU citizens, workers’ rights

While May asserted that “openness to international talent must remain one of this country’s most distinctive assets”, she backed controlling immigration and said that this was not possible with free movement to Britain from Europe. However, she said that the government wanted to “guarantee the rights of EU citizens who are already living in Britain, and the rights of British nationals in other member states” as soon as possible. In addition, May maintained that workers’ rights will be “fully protected”, as EU law is translated into UK regulations.

Trade, innovation, cooperation

In relation to trade, May said that the government will pursue a bold and ambitious free trade agreement with the European Union to allow the freest possible trade in goods and services between Britain and the EU’s Member States. Which means there was no membership of the single market.

May said that it was “time for Britain to get out into the world and rediscover its role as a great, global, trading nation”. This would be achieved through trade agreements with countries from outside the EU.

It was also stated that the UK would continue to cooperate EU countries on crime, terrorism and foreign affairs. “I…want our future relationship with the European Union to include practical arrangements on matters of law enforcement and the sharing of intelligence material with our EU allies,” she said.

Phased process of implementation

Looking past the two-year Brexit negotiation period, May stated that a phased process of implementation will be carried out in order to give businesses enough time to plan and prepare for new arrangements.

“We will seek to avoid a disruptive cliff-edge, and we will do everything we can to phase in the new arrangements we require as Britain and the EU move towards our new partnership,” said May.