As I’m sure you are aware, the Prime Minister submitted a letter today to the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, notifying him of the UK’s intention to leave the European Union. This was the awaited ‘triggering of Article 50’ and formally begins the process for leaving the EU.
Some of you may have questions about what this means for your business and how your day to day operations will be affected. To be clear, the triggering of Article 50 will not result in any immediate changes. The UK remains within the EU until it formally leaves the union, which will not take place until March 2019. Understandably, this period of wait brings a great degree of uncertainty over key issues that will affect many local businesses, such as the future status of EU workers in the UK, as well as future changes to business and trade rules.
In order to provide some certainty and stability, the Prime Minister has announced that the ‘Great Repeal Bill’ which will reassert the UK’s sovereignty will ‘wherever practical and appropriate’ convert the body of existing EU law in UK law. While the negotiations that are about to begin are on the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU, the Prime Minister’s has also urged that the terms of the future partnership between the UK and EU should be agreed at the same time in order to provide further certainty. In particular, the Prime Minister has stated her desire to establish an early agreement on the future status of EU citizens living in the UK, and UK citizens living in the EU, and to pursue a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between the UK and EU.
As the negotiation process gets underway, we intend to hold the Government to its promises to provide ‘as much certainty as possible, as early as possible’. Additionally, the Prime Minister’s letter indicated that when powers return back to the UK, it is expected that there will be a significant increase in the decision-making power of each devolved administration. Given the unique global trading nature of London’s businesses, we will lobby for London to receive a fair increase in its decision-making power in order to support the international trade of its businesses.
As ever, we will keep you informed of any major develops that affect you as when they occur.