I recently attended the Spring Lunch event for the Guild of Entrepreneurs - http://www.guildofentrepreneurs.org/ - where I listened the extremely accomplished speaker Anthony Belchambers, talking about his thoughts on Brexit and what the future holds.
My overriding feeling from the day was that all is not lost and that leaving the EU does not mean we are leaving Europe! The next 2 years may be full of risks and complexities but they are also full of opportunities for the UK. We should be optimistic, even if the decision to leave is not one we personally agreed with.
I thought I would share with you a synopsis of Mr Belchambers speech as it is one of the most realistic and positive opinions I have heard for a long time !
"Following the Guild of Entrepreneurs Spring Lunch 2017, on Tuesday 28th March, the barrister and noted financial expert, Anthony Belchambers, was welcomed and invited to address the assembled Freemen and guests.
Mr Belchambers took as his theme “Brexit, Trump, and the New Landscape for Entrepreneurs”
Anthony Belchambers, after congratulating the Guild on their new association with the Defence Academy, opened his address by emphasising that, while the UK was leaving the EU, it remained firmly in Europe – and could make a much more meaningful contribution as an independent sovereign state than as a subject state of an increasingly centralist EU. He emphasised that the negotiations must therefore not just be pro-business and pro-growth, but reflect the fact that both the EU and the UK will continue to be close allies with common interests and shared values. A closed Fortress Europe outcome would not be in the interests of either side.
Much, he said, is made of sustaining mutual rights of access, but, for obvious reasons, the UK cannot expect to be given the same rights of access said they were in the EU. While there was continuing annoyance with the UK over its decision to leave the EU, a more pragmatic approach was emerging, particularly at member state level. This made an access deal inevitable. After all, the UK would be retaining regulatory equivalence with the EU; the EU needed to access the depth of UK markets to fuel growth; and the EU enjoyed a sizeable trade surplus with the UK. As a recent leaked report of the European Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee put it “…it is critical that a workable agreement is achieved“.
He remarked that, at the same time, the EU was facing many internal problems with the migrant crisis, the continued fragility of the eurozone, the Italian banking crisis, populist resistance to “ever closer union” and now the controversy of a multi speed EU. All this – and the differing views of individual member states over a Brexit deal – could mean a “hard” Brexit could happen not by UK intransigence but because of disarray within the EU 27!
Mr Belchambers went on to talk about the impact of a possible US-UK trade deal which, under the new US Administration, had now gone from “back of the queue” to “front of line“. While the scope, conditions and restrictions of such a deal and its value to the UK cannot yet be calculated, the failure of the EU-US TTIP means it could be a game-changer for the UK’s role in Europe.
The Forum’s report on equivalence referred to “triangulation” i.e. the post Brexit opportunity for the UK to establish, firstly, EU access through equivalence with its rules; secondly, US access through a broad scope tailored deal with the US (and with other third countries); and, thirdly, a simplified more proportionate framework for domestic firms, particularly SMEs, as proposed in Andrew Bailey’s recent speech in Berlin. This latter would be of particular importance to the Guild.
Mr Belchambers closed his address by suggesting that the Guild could play a real role in identifying and taking forward the Brexit priorities of its members, e.g. enhancing their post-Brexit competitiveness, scaling back on needlessly onerous rules, facilitating their inclusion in the government’s supply chain and enhancing their export potential. As he put it, the Government were committed to a “better out than in” growth agenda and it was the Guild’s members who were the green shoots of tomorrow’s growth. "