Economic momentum cannot stall as Brexit negotiations start

Today, the Government has triggered Article 50, starting the formal process for the UK to leave the EU in two years’ time. Over the coming months, we will start to see the respective negotiating strategies and, I hope, some degree of clarity and certainty on what both sides hope to achieve through the negotiations.

We want to see a successful outcome to the negotiations that will enable UK and European economies to thrive and grow in a world of strong economies.

As I have blogged before, the scale of the challenge is significant. The negotiations will be hugely complex and, unless all parties agree to an extension, there’s only two years from today to conclude an agreement. They are also likely to dominate the political, economic and trade landscapes as each round of discussions are analysed in minute detail. But they cannot overwhelm us.

There will doubtless be much speculation and uncertainty over the next two years as the negotiations progress. Amidst this uncertainty, you can be sure that at ICAEW, we will seek to provide support and guidance where we can. In particular, we remain fully committed to our members, students and partner bodies across Europe as well as to our strong relationships with governments, regulators and the EU institutions.

In the UK, we are already seeing the momentum that the UK economy has built up over recent years starting to slow. As we have seen from our own Business Confidence Monitor, businesses are being more cautious when it comes to decisions on their long-term future, whether this is related to capital investment, research and development or staffing.

If the UK economy is to succeed post-Brexit, we have to maintain our economic momentum.

I would like to see political focus placed on the Great Repeal Bill (or the Great Continuity Bill as it should be called) to ensure stability once the UK leaves. I would also like Government to go further and spell out in detail why businesses should make the long-term investments necessary to secure the UK’s economic future.

We will continue to press our priorities for the UK which are to:

• Make the UK the best place to do business
• Maintain mutual recognition of regulators and regulatory coherence to protect and enhance market access
• Protect the movement of skilled labour
• Ensure that there is mutual market access between the UK and the EU in the financial and professional service sectors, including a regime that secures professional mobility for auditors and accountants. This would ensure that UK qualifications are recognised across the EU.

No country can afford to be distracted by the negotiation process or to take its eye off the economic ball. Nor can we put off decisions that will undermine or hinder the economic progress made in recent years.