The talks to take Britain out of the European Union have begun. The two representatives for the Britain and EU, David Davis and Michel Barnier respectively, have exchanged mountaineering gifts and sat down to begin ironing out a plan that includes topics like trade agreements and citizenship claims. Reports indicate that the first day of talks has been “constructive.”
Almost a year ago, in June 2016, Britain voted to leave the EU, winning by a small margin, and since then talk has been about the implications of this deal. With the EU allowing countries within it to trade and move about freely, leaving would mean changing the way the countries would do business, if tariffs will be involved, if work permits would hold and if the two entities can really find a way to break it off amicably.
Throughout the year Theresa May, Britain’s Prime Minister, has talked up a “Hard Brexit,” almost piggybacking Trump’s ideas of nationalistic intent and strong arming ones way through a negotiation. She has lost steam however, and backing, after a botched attempt to gain more conservative seats on the Parliament ended with a Hung Parliament and calls for her to step down. This has further opened the door for her opposition to push for a softer Brexit, in hopes of maintaining some of the agreements and pacts with the European Union, and on Sunday, June 18th of this year, five major business bodies of UK have released a joint open letter to the government calling for more openness in talks.
The letter calls for the government to maintain the relationships that allow businesses to thrive in the UK, including work permits and immigration laws that would benefit businesses like farms which heavily rely on migrant labor. They also plead for tariff free trade as this would help lessen the burden on small businesses which rely on trade with countries in the European Union. "We have come together to urge the government to put the economy first as it prepares to start formal negotiations," says the letter. "This is a deal that when finally agreed will matter fundamentally for the UK economy, for UK companies and for citizens of the UK."
The outcome of these talks will not only define the fate of the British economy, but this has far wider reaching consequences as the markets in the US are going to be reacting with news coming out of Brussels. No matter how these negotiations go, both areas stand to lose a great deal so it will be important to see the penultimate results and how they begin to impact businesses. Talks are expected to proceed slowly, with a fight on every point of the deal, but with the increased pressure coming from business and government leaders, in addition to the growing rate of terror attacks in Britain, the pressure is on Theresa May and her government.