This Week in Brexit: Politics

GBCC, Henrietta Brealey

This Week in Brexit: Politics

It is hard to believe that a mere 192 hours ago (at the time of writing) polls had just opened for the EU Referendum. Suffice to say, it’s been one heck of a week, here are some of the key developments in Politics. For developments in the economy see my earlier blog post:

Within hours of the referendum result becoming clear, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that he would be resigning in the autumn, as soon as a successor had been selected. He also declared that he would be leaving activation of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty* to the next Prime Minister. Read the Chamber response here.

Nominations for Conservative Leadership contenders closed at 12pm on Thursday. We can expect the new leader to be formally announced in early September. In the running are:

  • Teresa May, Home Secretary (current bookies’ favourite – she has pledged to recruit a leave campaigner for a newly created position of Secretary of State for Brexit if she wins. Officially on the “remain” side during the referendum campaign)
  • Michael Gove, Justice Secretary (along with Boris Johnson, one of the key leaders of the “leave” campaign)
  • Stephen Crabb, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (pro-“remain” in the run up to referendum, his running mate will be local resident Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for BIS, ambassador for the Midlands Engine and MP for Bromsgrove)
  • Andrea Leadsom, Minister of State - Department of Energy and Climate Change (a vocal “leave” campaigner)
  • Liam Fox, a former Defence Minister (also pro-“leave” in the run up to referendum)

For more information on the candidates click here.

The surprise non-contender was Boris Johnson who decided, apparently at the last minute after learning of Michael Gove’s bid, not to join the leadership contest.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party have been experiencing leadership woes of their own. After sacking Hilary Benn MP from his Shadow Cabinet in the early hours of Sunday morning, Jeremy Corbyn has faced a relentless tide of criticism from MPs in his party.

Despite over half of his shadow cabinet resigning and a vote of no confidence passing by 172-40 votes on Tuesday, Corbyn appears to have no intention of going quietly. A formal leadership contest is expected, at the time of writing Angela Eagle MP appears poised to launch an official challenge with others (i.e. Owen Smith MP) rumoured to be considering similar action.

What does this mean for Chamber members? Well, we’re unlikely to see much decisive action from Government on the “next steps for Brexit” until the leadership contest is resolved.

We’re also unlikely to see coordinated activity and challenge from the main opposition until their own divisions are tackled. In short – uncertainty is likely to continue but so too will this period of relative calm before the big decisions about Brexit start being made.

* the clause which would kick off the UK’s withdrawal process from the EU and starts the clock ticking on an official two-year negotiation period. For more in formation click here.

This Week at the Chambers:

It’s been a busy week for us too at the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce. Our first priority was to inform members about the result, what it means for their businesses and act as a voice of calm reassurance as we saw no material changes in the UK’s official relationship with the EU. Click Here for more information.

We’ve also been getting ready to launch our post-referendum campaign. It seems pretty clear to many of us that the Government is going to be tied up in internal politics and then the minutiae of renegotiations for quite some time.

Rather than wait for direction from them on their vision for our country, we’re going to be cracking on with what we can in the region. We’re going to be working on helping more businesses than ever export and explore new markets, making the most of this dip to the value of the pound. We’re going to be providing support for businesses to help them feel more confidently “Brexit ready” and actively promoting the region as the best place in the UK to live, work, do business and invest. And we’re going to continue to connect our members to the big debates of the day on emerging structures like the West Midlands Combined Authority and the Midlands Engine. In short, we’ll be helping define our own future.

Keep up to date on the latest here.

Henrietta Brealey is Director of Policy & Strategic Relationships at the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce.