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Brexit Talks Begin

Almost a year since Britons voted to leave the European Union, Brexit talks finally open on Monday amid confusion over just what the U.K. government wants from the divorce.

What U.K. Brexit Secretary David Davis describes as the “most complicated negotiation of all time” begins at 11 a.m. in Brussels with Prime Minister Theresa May’s government already on the backfoot. An attempt to strengthen her hand by calling an election backfired and she’s run into further domestic strife since, while the 27 other EU members started out with more leverage anyway.

The electoral debacle has put May’s own position in doubt, fueling a new battle within her Conservative Party over the kind of Brexit the U.K. should seek. Some of her ministers want to refashion her strategy toward protecting trade with Britain’s biggest market rather than continue to aim for her original goal of winning control of immigration and law-making.

May has yet to change tack formally and doing so would risk infuriating euroskeptics in her Tory party who might still prove strong enough to scupper a deal or to topple her as leader if they believe she’s backsliding.

“The election result increased the probability of extreme outcomes,” said Phillip Souta, head of U.K. public policy at Clifford Chance LLP. “If there is going to be a deal, it makes it more likely to be softer than before the election, but on the other hand the probability of no deal at all has increased.”

The negotiations start against the backdrop of a mounting domestic crisis in the U.K. May’s weakened post-election standing deteriorated further last week after she was slammed for misjudging the national mood following a deadly tower block inferno in West London. The public mood has also been shaken by a wave of terror attacks in recent weeks. Early this morning, a van hit pedestrians near a mosque in North London. Police said one person died, eight were injured and the 48-year-old driver has been arrested.

In Brussels, Davis and the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, meet with the U.K. keen to win back sovereignty without hurting its economy, while the EU’s aim is to maintain regional stability and stop inadvertently rewarding Britain’s decision to leave for fear of encouraging others to break away. Barnier plans to hold face-to-face meetings every four weeks and he and Davis will hold a press conference after Monday’s discussions.

How the negotiations progress will be monitored closely by investors and business leaders. Banks including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. say they will shift jobs from London to the EU if they fear their access to the bloc is jeopardized, while manufacturers in the U.K. such as carmaker Nissan Motor Co. warn against trade being hurt. The pound has fallen about 14 percent against the dollar since the June 23 referendum, pushing up inflation even as the economy shows signs of slowing.

Source: bloomberg.com

Almost a year since Britons voted to leave the European Union, Brexit talks finally open on Monday amid confusion over just what the U.K. government wants from the divorce.

What U.K. Brexit Secretary David Davis describes as the “most complicated negotiation of all time” begins at 11 a.m. in Brussels with Prime Minister Theresa May’s government already on the backfoot. An attempt to strengthen her hand by calling an election backfired and she’s run into further domestic strife since, while the 27 other EU members started out with more leverage anyway.

The electoral debacle has put May’s own position in doubt, fueling a new battle within her Conservative Party over the kind of Brexit the U.K. should seek. Some of her ministers want to refashion her strategy toward protecting trade with Britain’s biggest market rather than continue to aim for her original goal of winning control of immigration and law-making.

May has yet to change tack formally and doing so would risk infuriating euroskeptics in her Tory party who might still prove strong enough to scupper a deal or to topple her as leader if they believe she’s backsliding.

“The election result increased the probability of extreme outcomes,” said Phillip Souta, head of U.K. public policy at Clifford Chance LLP. “If there is going to be a deal, it makes it more likely to be softer than before the election, but on the other hand the probability of no deal at all has increased.”

The negotiations start against the backdrop of a mounting domestic crisis in the U.K. May’s weakened post-election standing deteriorated further last week after she was slammed for misjudging the national mood following a deadly tower block inferno in West London. The public mood has also been shaken by a wave of terror attacks in recent weeks. Early this morning, a van hit pedestrians near a mosque in North London. Police said one person died, eight were injured and the 48-year-old driver has been arrested.

In Brussels, Davis and the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, meet with the U.K. keen to win back sovereignty without hurting its economy, while the EU’s aim is to maintain regional stability and stop inadvertently rewarding Britain’s decision to leave for fear of encouraging others to break away. Barnier plans to hold face-to-face meetings every four weeks and he and Davis will hold a press conference after Monday’s discussions.

How the negotiations progress will be monitored closely by investors and business leaders. Banks including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. say they will shift jobs from London to the EU if they fear their access to the bloc is jeopardized, while manufacturers in the U.K. such as carmaker Nissan Motor Co. warn against trade being hurt. The pound has fallen about 14 percent against the dollar since the June 23 referendum, pushing up inflation even as the economy shows signs of slowing.

Source: bloomberg.com

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