This Week in Brexit: Politics

Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce

It’s been well and truly “back to school” in another busy week of Brexit related activity:

The Government

Prime Minister Teresa May has been industrious this week, making the most of the G20 Summit in China.

During the trip she sought to quell concerns about Brexit to varying degrees of success. US President Barack Obama refused to take back his pre-referendum comments that a UK outside of the EU would be at the “back of the queue” on securing a trade deal with the USA. He did, however, reaffirm his commitment to the “special relationship” between the two nations.

Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister, was also direct, highlighting concerns set out in a 15 page memo that Japanese companies lured to the UK by the promise of access to the EU single market might now face trade barriers and tariffs.

May reportedly had a more positive meeting with Malcolm Turnbull, Australia’s Prime Minister (with more progress reported back in the UK) and a cautiously optimistic one with Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister.

Among her many other engagements Theresa May also met Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time since becoming PM.

She also appeared to reject the prospect of a post-Brexit Australian style points based immigration system for EU Nationals (a key proposal from a number of pro-Brexiteers during the referendum debate). Instead she described her preferred approach as a “system where the government is able to decide who comes into the country”.

By Thursday Prime Minister May was back in the UK meeting European Council President Donald Tusk. He urged her to activate Article 50 so that formal negotiations can begin.

The Opposition

On Wednesday, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and his aides set out his belief that the UK should pitch for full access to the EU Market in Brexit negotiations, but reject some core rules on state aid and privatising public services.

Leadership challenger Owen Smith continued his criticism of Corbyn, accusing him first of a lack-lustre Prime Ministers Questions performance then of being “happy to accept Brexit at any cost”.

In Other News

Last Friday, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Arkady Dvorkovich told BBC reporter Mark Urban that the Brexit vote has “made Europe a little bit weaker”.

On Tuesday, tensions ran high in the Commons as MP’s debated the prospect of a second referendum. The debate was triggered by a petition which garnered more than 4million signatures (more than any other in the past five years).

This Week at the Chambers

Theresa May is not the only one who’s been industrious this week. We’ve been busily working away on the final stages of data collection for our Quarterly Business Report Survey. Closing COP Monday (12th September), this survey will be the first since the referendum and a strong indicator of how local businesses are really feeling on the ground. Don’t forget to take part here and join us at our report launch event on the 11th October to hear the latest results (find out more here).

On Monday we revealed the West Midlands results of a British Chambers of Commerce survey on employing EU nationals post-referendum. We called on the Government to provide immediate certainty for both businesses and employees on the residence rights of existing EU employees. In the West Midlands, 37 per cent of West Midlands businesses who employ EU workers report that they have had employees expressing uncertainty over future residency status (read our press release here).

Carrying on with our Summer of Export Support campaign we have a whole raft of opportunities available for globally minded businesses. We’ve got everything from trade missions to a diverse range of locations from Switzerland to Toronto to a training session on Ecommerce for International Trade and transatlantic networking closer to home. You can view all of our International Trade related events here.