On Thursday 25th October, the British Chamber’s CEO Glenn Vaughan met with Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab for a landmark meeting alongside representatives from chambers across Europe. Glenn shares his thoughts following the meeting:
There’s no certainty – but more clarity and confidence can be built
Last Thursday I was part of a delegation of national chambers of commerce that met Secretary of State, Dominic Raab, Brexit Minister Robin Walker and the top officials from his department. Countries represented were Germany, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark – as well as Britain.
The message from our own members was supported by detail from our expert Future Relations Committee, and echoed loudly by national chambers representing 70% of all EU-UK trade:
- No-deal is not an option – for either side. It would create very severe disruption for everyone.
- When a withdrawal agreement is finalised, the next phase of negotiations must proceed quickly. There’s no room for a leisurely go-slow while the EU manages its institutional changeover or London lines up its ducks.
- Regulatory alignment is extremely important if we are to get close to ‘frictionless trade’ in a future agreement.
The need for certainty underlies everything we have to say, but right now it is a long way off. Each new piece of progress only reveals the next cause of uncertainty. An agreement at a hoped for November European summit will need to be approved, especially in the UK parliament. Once a withdrawal agreement is sealed, that’s the point from which we can start to work towards clarity – step by step.
We expect both the UK and the EU to take that opportunity to specify a clear destination and make clear and practical steps towards it, building confidence as they go. Another period of putting off decisions, until the next cliff edge is reached, is no good for anyone.