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EU referendum: two weeks on

It is now two weeks since the referendum result and the dust is beginning to settle.

Just as you have been busy assessing the unfolding pathways and immediate impacts, concerns and recommendations for your businesses, so we have been listening to insights from our members, the wider business community, and our political network. On Monday morning, our board met with chief executives representing a cross-sectoral view of London First membership, to exchange views, and discuss next steps – we were joined by the newly-appointed Deputy Mayor for Business, Rajesh Agrawal in his first day of his new role, along with the mayor’s chief of staff.

We need business leadership in what comes next, creating a new trading relationship with the EU and the rest of the world and making sure everyone knows that London is very much open for business.

We intend to work closely with national and local government to minimise uncertainty for business and will be supporting the new Mayor in his priorities for London’s businesses out of the negotiations.

The latest GDP growth projections for the UK have been revised downwards, but still show a positive trend, predominantly driven by London. This is a reflection of the deep advantages presented by London’s legal and commercial institutions, location, language, freedoms, education sector and global links. There are challenges but with strong business leadership, we can build a new relationship with the EU single market and with new markets elsewhere.

Listening to the members

Over the past fortnight several themes have become clear. The following captures the most common concerns of London business regarding Brexit:

  • Avoid rushing negotiations – you want a carefully considered negotiating position before any triggering of Article 50.
  • Single Market – your overriding priority in negotiations is retaining favourable access to the Single Market.
  • Migration policy – business needs skilled labour from around the world, and urgently needs clarity and assurance on the status of current EU staff here and UK staff in the EU.
  • Infrastructure investment – to maintain London’s growth in the face of an economic slowdown, securing investment in housing, commercial development and transport infrastructure has become even more pressing.
  • More powers for London – further devolution of powers to the Mayor (& GLA) to boost London’s competitiveness via the proper resourcing of boroughs and planning.

We very much want to hear from business in all sectors across the capital. If you’ve not already done so, please do share your thinking with us (Naomi Smith, nsmith@londonfirst.co.uk), and comment on or disagree with any of the above!

Join us

Throughout August, we will be holding themed Brexit roundtables. These will offer our members a forum for thrashing out the London business response to issues such as infrastructure investments; where next for the services ‘passporting’ regime; and immigration implications etc. We’ll use these sessions to inform the developing the London First 2016-17 workplan in the context of the referendum result.

If there are other issues you would like us to cover or to register your interest in attending these events, please get in touch with Naomi Smith, nsmith@londonfirst.co.uk

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