As we reach the halfway point between triggering Article 50 and Brexit, many concerns about the UK’s withdrawal remain, not least from within the business community.
Today marks a year since the UK government triggered Article 50 and a year until the UK will formally leave the EU. To mark the occasion, the Prime Minister has embarked on a tour across the UK, hoping to appeal to both leave and remain voters in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. She has pledged to ‘keep the UK strong and united’ and to make Brexit a ‘success’.
The milestone has been marked in the media, with the BBC publishing a video report chronicling the key Brexit events over the last year, highlighting the key challenges that remain, as well as an article explaining the view from the EU side. The Times, Independent and Telegraph have all marked the ‘one year to go’ with reports and analysis, highlighting this important milestone.
However, many concerns about the UK’s withdrawal remain, not least from within the business community. This week The Guardian published a sector-by-sector analysis of the issues of concern to UK businesses, focusing on insurance, logistics, aviation and derivatives trading. The analysis emphasised pressing issues such as reciprocal arrangements, potential border controls and post-Brexit contract and licensing issues.
Our campaign marks this halfway point
On Tuesday, in Parliament, the London Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI), the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce and Business West held an event to mark this pivotal point, and to launch a joint campaign – Terms of Trade: the reality of Brexit for business.
The launch was attended by over 100 business representatives, including major companies such as Airbus and Honda, as well as MPs from the three major parties including Darren Jones MP, Tom Brake MP and Robert Buckland QC MP.
The three chambers unveiled a report produced by Cebr, which focused on the potential impact of three post-Brexit scenarios on the metro-regions of London, Manchester and Bristol. The report was given wider context by Chief Cebr economist Vicky Price, who explained that whilst it is possible that Brexit could provide positive opportunities, the three scenarios explored- A ‘Norway’ type deal, a ‘Canada +’ type deal and a reversion to WTO trade rules- would all most likely have a ‘negative’ impact on the three metro regions, and especially so in London.
It was clear that business leaders feared that the agreed 21-month transition period provided insufficient certainty for business, and that it did not allow enough time for business to adapt to potential new trade rules.
UK businesses are calling for certainty, and an indication of the terms of a UK/EU trade deal in order to make plans in the short, medium and long term. The fear is that this uncertainty could make trade less profitable for UK firms, could drive business overseas or even cause some businesses to fail.