Brexit negotiations: Where are we up to?

A day hasn’t gone by since the EU Referendum when Brexit hasn’t been in the news in some form or another. We rarely get through 24 hours without hearing about it.

Brexit negotiations: Where are we up to?

This week marked the latest round of talks between the UK negotiating team and the EU, with Brexit secretary David Davis flying out to Brussels to, as he put it, get down to work – though the fact he was pictured without any notes suggest that maybe he wasn’t as prepared as he could have been. Davis, to confound the view he hasn’t gotten off to a good start, reportedly left the meeting to fly back to the UK after just 15 minutes.

The perception in the UK at the moment is that Brexit is being led by a government in open civil war, with the chancellor Philip Hammond complaining that his Brexit favouring colleagues are briefing the press about private comments made in cabinet meetings. The government is perceived as being weak and undisciplined as the Prime Minister has seemingly shied away from the media following her humiliating election performance last month.

With all the talk being of a tough start to talks and the possibility of a ‘no deal’ scenario becoming more likely, it has been made very apparent by those in the city and in business circles that they deem this absolutely unacceptable. It seems that nerves have truly begun to jangle around London and the finance district that the government could drag us out without a deal at all and so many have been briefing that they’re making contingency plans.

As reported in the Guardian, Financial Conduct Authority chief executive Andrew Bailey said City firms were getting near to the point where they would have to take steps to move staff and other measures to ensure that they can continue to operate seamlessly once the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.

This has followed reports that Citi will become the latest Wall Street giant to unveil plans to cope with the UK’s departure from the European Union when it names Frankfurt as the location for a major new trading operation.

Sky News has apparently learnt that Citi executives have finalised plans to establish a second EU-based broker-dealer, which will handle many of the market trading activities currently undertaken in London.

Stephen Martin, director general of the Institute of Directors, speaking at a business event held in London, is also pressing Theresa May for more clarity over the Brexit process to avoid firms “upping sticks” and leaving the country.

The pound has also been dropping once again and this has had a serious effect on some businesses with Sports Direct reporting a drop in profits of nearly 60%.

Property has remained steadfast in terms of investment and rental yields, particularly around urban and city centres. Northern areas in particular continue to be the best bet for investors.

There is a distinct feeling, it seems, that we are at an important point within these negotiations as the city, business and much of the wealth creating section of the UK become acutely aware of the time constraints placed on negotiations by Article 50 expiring in March 2019.

Up to now the majority seem deeply unimpressed with the handling of the negotiations and their demands appear to be much greater clarity with regards to the goals, methods and ambitions of the talks. The problem, it would appear, is that the government don’t look like they know what they want or how to get it.

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Manchester Guide vertical - April 2019

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