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UK Government can’t afford to sideline its own capital in Brexit negotiations

Ahead of the Brexit negotiations, influential business group London First, is calling on the government to protect the interests of London businesses and their employees for the good of the UK economy as a whole.

After consultation with leading businesses, London First urges government to:

  • Move swiftly to give absolute certainty to EU nationals currently living and working in Britain;
  • Enable British businesses to drive UK growth and prosperity via a new deal with the EU.

The key planks of this new deal must be:

  • a British approach to immigration which ensures that business continues to have access to the talent the country needs, combined with a much more effective focus on improving our citizens’ education and training.
  • full access to the European single market, so that British business can continue to trade in both goods and services on a level playing field with our largest export markets;
  • continue the benefits of the Customs Union, to ensure frictionless movement of goods and services between the UK and the rest of Europe and, in particular, to ensure no hard border between NI and Eire. This can complement a more vigorous approach to driving trade globally.
  • If a comprehensive deal isn’t reached by March 2019, we need transitional arrangements that ensure British jobs, growth or living standards aren’t threatened while negotiations continue.

It is vital for the UK economy that London remains the best city in the world to do business. Our capital accounts for 23% of the UK economy, 17% of jobs, and 30% of the country’s tax revenue. London generates a tax surplus of more than £30 billion to support public investment across rest of the UK.

The general election has seen a political sea change in London. London returns 73 MPs to the Commons reflecting its population, compared to Scotland and North Ireland which send 77 between them. Four seats shifted from the Conservative party to the Labour party. The more than 10% swing in Kensington shows that there are no ‘safe’ seats in the capital.  London’s clarity of views in the referendum and the general election and its strong executive mayor, mean it could emerge as a regional bloc in parliament for the first time.

Jasmine Whitbread, Chief Executive of London First, commented:

“Berlin, Paris and Frankfurt are all trying to lure business away from London and the UK. Government has to enable London, and London’s businesses, to compete. I have been speaking with business leaders across London for six months and the priority is crystal clear: staying attractive to the world’s best talent and being able to recruit from a global pool.”

 “The government must listen closely to London’s MPs, London’s mayor and London business over the months ahead – it might once have been good politics to have a crack at the capital but it’s lousy economics for the whole UK. London isn’t just trying to buy its way into the debate by pointing to its tax contribution and supply chains around the country. The UK and London economy are increasingly conjoined. For example businesses associated with the capital are increasingly basing themselves on multiple sites around the UK, as in the case of HSBC moving many functions to Birmingham.”

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