UK’s May seeks to ease Brexit fears at new business council

LONDON: Prime Minister Theresa May will chair a discussion on Brexit and the economy at the first meeting of a new business council on Thursday, a bid to rebuild bridges with companies concerned over Britain’s departure from the EU.
After losing the governing Conservatives’ parliamentary majority at an ill-judged election last month, May has stepped up efforts to engage with business after some firms criticized her government for failing to address their worries over Brexit.
Many companies have urged the government to push the EU to agree a clear and lengthy transitional arrangement after Britain leaves the bloc in 2019 to help them make investment decisions.
The meeting marks a shift for May, whose former aides had wanted to break what they felt was an overly cosy relationship between big business and government before her authority was weakened at the June election.
“Theresa May will tomorrow chair the first meeting of a new business council, which will provide a direct link to business on the government’s Brexit strategy, as well as looking at wider issues such as the development of a modern industrial strategy and steps to boost the nation’s economy,” May’s spokesman said.
The council would meet regularly and its cast list would change on a “rolling basis to ensure broad representation across different sectors and industries over time,” the spokesman added.
Alongside the new business council, there will be regular meetings with Britain’s five main trade organizations chaired by finance minister Philip Hammond, business minister Greg Clark and Brexit minister David Davis to focus on Brexit.
Meanwhile, a government source said on Wednesday that Britain will probably set up fewer than 10 new regulators after leaving the EU.
Untangling decades of complex legal ties between Britain and the EU is seen as one of the most difficult technical challenges of enacting last year’s Brexit vote, and also one of the most crucial for the future of the world’s fifth largest economy.
Uncertainty over the future of sector-by-sector regulation, much of which is currently handled at EU level, is a major concern for firms operating in dozens of industries such as banking, pharmaceuticals and aviation.
Business lobbying group the Confederation of British Industry has previously suggested that 34 EU regulators will no longer have jurisdiction in Britain after Brexit.
The government set out how it plans to translate EU law into British law last week when it publish legislation known as the repeal bill.
A government source said an assessment of which new regulators would be required under the repeal bill is expected to be a low number, and probably less than 10.
A source close to May also said the number would most likely be in single figures.
The government source did not detail which industries might need a new regulator.
Some firms have already raised the possibility that they would choose to relocate to avoid the higher costs associated with regulatory uncertainty.
Specifically, firms worry whether domestic regulation regimes will allow them to access EU markets, whether British and EU rules will diverge over time, and if they will be asked to bear the cost of setting up new industry watchdogs.
“Far from the Brexit bonfire of bureaucracy promised by Leave campaigners, new regulators with different rules from those in the EU could cause a real red-tape headache for British businesses,” said James McGrory, Executive Director of Open Britain, a cross-party pro-EU campaigning group.
For example leaving the nearly 900-person European Medicines Agency, which is set to move from its current base in London, would mean Britain would need a standalone UK regulator to decide if drugs are fit for use.
Since companies must pay fees to have new drugs assessed and separate filings involve extra work, the cost of accessing a British market that accounts for only 2-3 percent of global sales would likely delay the introduction of new medicines into the UK.
“Good regulators do not come cheap and ministers need to come clean about the cost to the taxpayer, who were promised a Brexit windfall for our public services like the NHS (National Health Service) instead,” McGrory said.
— Reuters

LONDON: Prime Minister Theresa May will chair a discussion on Brexit and the economy at the first meeting of a new business council on Thursday, a bid to rebuild bridges with companies concerned over Britain’s departure from the EU.
After losing the governing Conservatives’ parliamentary majority at an ill-judged election last month, May has stepped up efforts to engage with business after some firms criticized her government for failing to address their worries over Brexit.
Many companies have urged the government to push the EU to agree a clear and lengthy transitional arrangement after Britain leaves the bloc in 2019 to help them make investment decisions.
The meeting marks a shift for May, whose former aides had wanted to break what they felt was an overly cosy relationship between big business and government before her authority was weakened at the June election.
“Theresa May will tomorrow chair the first meeting of a new business council, which will provide a direct link to business on the government’s Brexit strategy, as well as looking at wider issues such as the development of a modern industrial strategy and steps to boost the nation’s economy,” May’s spokesman said.
The council would meet regularly and its cast list would change on a “rolling basis to ensure broad representation across different sectors and industries over time,” the spokesman added.
Alongside the new business council, there will be regular meetings with Britain’s five main trade organizations chaired by finance minister Philip Hammond, business minister Greg Clark and Brexit minister David Davis to focus on Brexit.
Meanwhile, a government source said on Wednesday that Britain will probably set up fewer than 10 new regulators after leaving the EU.
Untangling decades of complex legal ties between Britain and the EU is seen as one of the most difficult technical challenges of enacting last year’s Brexit vote, and also one of the most crucial for the future of the world’s fifth largest economy.
Uncertainty over the future of sector-by-sector regulation, much of which is currently handled at EU level, is a major concern for firms operating in dozens of industries such as banking, pharmaceuticals and aviation.
Business lobbying group the Confederation of British Industry has previously suggested that 34 EU regulators will no longer have jurisdiction in Britain after Brexit.
The government set out how it plans to translate EU law into British law last week when it publish legislation known as the repeal bill.
A government source said an assessment of which new regulators would be required under the repeal bill is expected to be a low number, and probably less than 10.
A source close to May also said the number would most likely be in single figures.
The government source did not detail which industries might need a new regulator.
Some firms have already raised the possibility that they would choose to relocate to avoid the higher costs associated with regulatory uncertainty.
Specifically, firms worry whether domestic regulation regimes will allow them to access EU markets, whether British and EU rules will diverge over time, and if they will be asked to bear the cost of setting up new industry watchdogs.
“Far from the Brexit bonfire of bureaucracy promised by Leave campaigners, new regulators with different rules from those in the EU could cause a real red-tape headache for British businesses,” said James McGrory, Executive Director of Open Britain, a cross-party pro-EU campaigning group.
For example leaving the nearly 900-person European Medicines Agency, which is set to move from its current base in London, would mean Britain would need a standalone UK regulator to decide if drugs are fit for use.
Since companies must pay fees to have new drugs assessed and separate filings involve extra work, the cost of accessing a British market that accounts for only 2-3 percent of global sales would likely delay the introduction of new medicines into the UK.
“Good regulators do not come cheap and ministers need to come clean about the cost to the taxpayer, who were promised a Brexit windfall for our public services like the NHS (National Health Service) instead,” McGrory said.
— Reuters

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