Brexit Conversation Elucidates Path Forward

June 29, 2016

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British voters sent shockwaves throughout the world on Thursday, voting to begin the process to leave the European Union. Governments, businesses, and even everyday citizens are grappling with the unexpected reality of Brexit, a decision as momentous as it was surprising.

To help affected clients anticipate the short-term and long-term effects of Brexit, the FleishmanHillard global public affairs team hosted a webinar entitled, “Navigating Brexit’s Historic Changes on Both Sides of the Atlantic.”

The conversation featured me as the moderator, along with experts Liam McCloy, director and partner in London, and Donald Ricketts, senior vice president and senior partner in Brussels – for an in-depth briefing on stakeholder standpoints and political probabilities.

As Ricketts noted, Winston Churchill once said, “The problem with political suicide is you have to live to regret it.” Britain’s leaders and citizens now may face such consequences.

McCloy detailed the political knowns and unknowns in London and throughout Europe—and the resulting instability. While Britain is still part of the EU, and will remain so as they follow-up a number of steps post-referendum, Brits have important decisions to make in the coming days regarding political leadership.

With Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron resigning and Labour Party chief Jeremy Corbyn receiving a vote-of-no-confidence from Parliament, both major political parties must choose their new nominees for country leadership.

“A frontrunner hasn’t won a Conservative nomination in 50 years,” McCloy noted. Whoever is elected the new Prime Minister will lead Britain through any EU renegotiations.

With this unprecedented void in leadership, anything and everything can happen.

McCloy advised business leaders to assess whether they have a preferred model for Britain’s realignment with the EU, and which current EU regulations matter to their business.

The process for renegotiation of terms with the EU is grueling, Ricketts added, noting that at least 30 regional assemblies must approve any new agreement on Britain’s relationship with the EU.

Additionally, the next 18 months contain a number of crucial national elections – in countries including Germany, France and the Netherlands – that can all impact the EU balance of power.

For all who do business in the U.K. and EU, the political and economic future is in a period of deep and consequential uncertainty. The trade, finance, technology, and energy sectors could feel these shockwaves. U.S. companies, particularly tech companies, may have lost a critical ally in Great Britain, who functioned as a reliable advocate within the EU voting bloc.

And European eyes will be on the U.S. as well. On the eve of one its most contentious presidential elections, European leaders are equally curious to see if the Brexit rhetoric to “reject the establishment” will stick here in America.

For more information, please listen to the complete webinar located below, and contact:

Kris Balderston
FleishmanHillard
1615 L Street NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20036-5610
United States
Phone +1-202-659-0330