Almost three weeks on from the earthquake that was the European Referendum result, our latest Luther Pendragon network event brought together political experts from London, Brussels and Berlin with a cross section of British industry. Dan Guthrie of Luther Pendragon, Mark Watts and Stefan Borst of IDA Group briefed attendees on the latest Brexit developments over lunch and led a discussion on what businesses can expect and steps that they should be taking.

Dan, a Luther Director with 20 years of campaign experience, outlined the latest on the British political situation and PM-in-waiting’s negotiating position on vital issues such as single market access and the political challenges of defying the vote and not delivering Brexit.

Mark, who spent ten years as a British MEP, shared his intelligence on the key players in Brussels who will shape Britain’s future relationship with the EU. He highlighted the often-overlooked detail that a ‘mixed agreement’ – the most likely basis for the UK’s future relationship with the EU following the completion of the Article 50 process- will require unanimous agreement in the European Council, ratification by the European Parliament and then by every Member State according to their national procedures – which in Belgium includes both national and regional Parliaments. The UK’s relationship with each Member States will be highly influential on its future relationship with the EU.

Stefan, a former Brussels correspondent for a leading German current affairs magazine, highlighted the ‘reality gap’ between coverage of the issue in Britain and the rest of Europe and added that while Germany sees Britain as a valuable partner, many other Member States will be looking to gain from Britain’s departure from the EU. He added that the forthcoming elections in France and Germany and the public mood across Europe would mean that there is an imperative to negotiate hard with the UK, with any economic fall-out serving as a warning to the public across other Member States about the danger of leaving.

The speakers then gave advice on how business should engage in the negotiations with the UK Government and on the continent. All the speakers emphasised that informal talks are already underway and businesses, and particularly trade associations, who start to act now will be well-placed to manage developments rather than just observe them.

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