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Brexit: the Mansion House Speech - a Step Forward for Business?

on Friday, 02 March 2018.

Some cake available, but for who?

Theresa May’s Mansion House speech this afternoon acknowledges publicly for the first time that in a negotiated settlement, UK access to EU markets will be less in some circumstances.

The Prime Minister repeated her call for a new deep and special relationship, and reasserted her view that no existing trade model - Norway, Canada or World Trade Organisation - would be appropriate for Britain.

The themes she explored centred around mutual, tariff free, access, fair competition, and transparency and cooperation on regulation and compliance.

Although UK regulation would be likely to remain substantially similar to EU rules, the Brexit vote means for the government that Parliament could choose to diverge from EU regulation in the future, but would have to accept in doing so that this would have an adverse effect on market access.

This reflected her view that one foundation of the withdrawal agreement should be the ongoing development, and cooperation in respect of, regulation in many areas for the future - a flexible and evolving approach, rather than a once and for all agreement as to whose rules will prevail.

Whether the EU will accept such a way forward remains to be seen.

If the idea does gain traction, then UK businesses would do well to engage with and through their own trade and sector organisations, to ensure that government is lobbied and made aware of their issues and concerns. Maintaining regulatory alignment will be key to secure continuing market access as fully as possible under the proposed model - some of the available cake.

For more information, please contact David Emanuel, in our Corporate Law team, on 020 7665 0848.

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