This week, the Chancellor Philip Hammond met with British businesses from a range of industries to listen to their views ahead of his first Autumn Statement. The roundtable events provided an opportunity for discussions around leaving the European Union.
Following the meetings, the Chancellor issued a statement on 21 September 2016 expressing his intention to negotiate a deal that gives Britain access to the single market. He said:
“My message to businesses is clear: In negotiations to leave the EU, we will work hard to get the best deal for Britain and that includes ensuring that British companies can continue to trade with the single market in goods and services.“
As well as appreciating the importance of Britain’s relationship with Europe, the Chancellor acknowledged that Britain leaving the EU would require the country to reposition itself . He stated that it is “crucial that the government and businesses work together” to help Britain to “forge a new role for [itself] in the world“.
Those who attended the meetings are from a cross section of Britain’s leading business groups including the Confederation of British Industry, National Federation of Self Employed & Small Businesses Limited and the British Chambers of Commerce, as well as representatives from prominent companies.
In addition to meeting industry specific groups, the Chancellor discussed boosting UK growth and productivity at a productivity roundtable, which was attended by representatives from major global businesses. (For a full list of those who attended the roundtable events, see the Chancellor’s Statement published by HM Treasury yesterday.)
The Chancellor’s statement was clear that Britain remains committed to seeking access to the single market. However, the exact terms of any proposed deal remain unclear. It is uncertain whether Britain will seek a deal that involves full access to the single market like Norway, or partial access like Switzerland, which does not have full access to the single market for its banking sector.
If full access is sought, it is likely that the EU will demand concessions, including the freedom of EU citizens to work and live in the UK. This is the case for Norway, which also pays a contribution to the EU Budget.