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The industry responds to Article 50

Britain has officially started the Brexit process, triggering Article 50 and starting a two-year countdown before the country drops out of the European Union.


The UK and the 27 other EU member states will begin the arduous process of negotiations to decide how they can disentangle their existing relations, while Prime Minister Theresa May must put a complex legislative programme through parliament.

May said: “Important though our trade with the EU is and will remain, it is clear that the UK needs to increase significantly its trade with the fastest-growing export markets in the world.

“We hope to continue to collaborate with our European partners in the areas of science, education, research and technology, so that the UK is one of the best places for science and innovation."


Here’s a look at how some of industry’s biggest trade associations and other organisations are reacting to the news.

Venki Ramakrishnan, president of the Royal Society

“The UK is a world leader in research and maintaining that has rightly been identified by the government as a priority in the Brexit negotiations. Ensuring we have the people and ideas from at home and abroad, the funding and the right regulatory frameworks will be essential to our ongoing success.

We hope that the government will make it an immediate priority to ensure that EU researchers who are working in the UK have the right to remain here. Science and innovation have a key role to play in shaping the UK’s future and it is in our national interest to retain and attract the world’s best science talent.”

Terry Scuoler, chief executive of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation

“The government must ensure Britain’s manufacturers are not disadvantaged in any way as we prepare to leave. I strongly welcome the Prime Minister’s positive tone in calling for a deep and special partnership with the EU as we must work together with our European partners to achieve a new relationship, and one with effortless trade, which works for both Britain and the EU.

While she says there is no turning back, she must ensure that the government heads in the right direction and is not unduly driven by those who will pressurise her to leave the EU without a deal. That cannot be an option.

Doing all of this within a two-year timetable will be fiendishly difficult, if not impossible, and Britain will need to seek a transition period to enable all sides to adjust and avoid serious economic shocks. Businesses must also be able to continue to employ and deploy staff as freely as possible.”

Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Railway Industry Association

“Brexit presents the industry with challenges and opportunities. The Railway Industry Association will seek to be included in any Brexit agreement, ensuring railways sit alongside automotive and aerospace as one of the Department for Exiting the EU’s top transport sectors.

We will work with the government to maintain trade in as frictionless a manner as possible, for example on standards and tariffs; and we will seek to ensure our industry continues to have access to an adequate supply of skilled labour from the UK and around the world.”

Paul Everitt, chief executive of aerospace, defence, security and space trade body ADS

“The industry is committed to working with the government and colleagues across the EU to inform discussions and foster the best possible outcomes.

A successful negotiation will enable UK and European businesses to prosper in increasingly competitive global markets. A failure to agree a new trade relationship would undermine competitiveness and threaten the many high-value, long-term jobs our companies sustain in the UK and across the EU.”

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders

“Government has committed to creating and supporting the right conditions for our industry to be successful. That means certainty in our relationship with our biggest market, tariff-free and open borders, so products, parts and investment can flow freely, and continued influence over the regulation that governs the vehicles we build and drive. We will continue to work with government and our European counterparts but no deal is not an option. Now is the time for government to deliver.”

Len McCluskey, of the UK’s largest union Unite

“For the jobs and prosperity of the people of this country, the government must make it clear that its priority is to secure maximum access to present-day customs and market access arrangements, and that, far from treating migrant workers as bargaining chips, their worth to our economy is understood and will be safeguarded. We urge them to make it abundantly clear: there will be no ‘hard’ Brexit.”

Lawrence Slade, chief executive of Energy UK

“Trade with Europe has given the UK access to competitive and diverse sources of energy and contributes to our security of supply. It is therefore essential we continue to have a relationship with the EU that allows the efficient flow of electricity and gas across borders, and benefits UK energy customers.

A positive outcome to the Brexit negotiations, supported by a long-term, stable framework delivered through the industrial strategy, could significantly help the UK to meet climate change targets, but also to deliver a bold and ambitious plan for energy – with more jobs, investment and environmental benefits, as we transition to a digital, decarbonised future.”

Paul Drechsler, president of the CBI

“Businesses will welcome the commitment to an implementation period to rule out cliff edges for firms on both sides of the Channel – though more detail will be needed. We must work to design a means to maintain some influence over regulations affecting UK businesses in our biggest market.

And discussing new trading arrangements should go hand-in-hand with negotiating the UK’s exit from the EU.

It will be important to deliver on the commitment to include the devolved nations and all regions of the UK in the discussions.”

Nick Baveystock, director general of the Institution of Civil Engineers

“We need to remain attractive to investors; Research and Development must still thrive; and we need more skilled workers than ever to deliver our ambitious infrastructure projects.

Government needs help to get the best deal, not a long list of industry asks. Our sector must work with government to take practical steps to ensure UK infrastructure and construction remain globally competitive.”

After reading all of the commentary, Chris has identified that "it is clear from all the viewpoints in this article that the government have a colossal task to ensure every industry doesn’t lose out from Brexit. Although there is a lot of unknowns in terms of regulation, tariffs etc., there is also unknowns in the benefits to UK businesses. It will be interesting to see how the details unfold."


Accreditation: Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Anon., 2017. The original article can be located here.

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