The Prime Minister, Teresa May, has today written formally to the EU to trigger Article 50, the UK’s formal exit from the European Union, saying:
“This is a historic moment from which there can be no turning back.”
Today triggers a 2 year exit period of formal negotiations of the terms of the ‘divorce’.
We have received much comment from the HR World – and will continue to update this feed throughout the day
The CIPD’s Peter Cheese has issued a long statement which can be read in full here. He said:
“If the UK is going to thrive on leaving the EU, then it’s essential that businesses, as well as government, have a greater understanding of what is going on inside our workforces; the skills needed today and tomorrow and the barriers that are blocking productivity. For many organisations, Brexit has been the sharp wake-up call they needed to look at and better understand their workforces, to focus more on the changing skills and capabilities that they need to remain competitive, and understand where and how they are going to access or develop those capabilities for the future.”
Prime Minister must now take the time to get the best Brexit deal for working people, says TUC
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“The Prime Minister must take all the time needed to get the best deal for Britain – not just the fastest deal. British workers and British jobs are relying on it.
“The best deal will guarantee that hardworking Brits keep their hard-won rights at work – and that in the years to come they won’t miss out on new protections that Dutch, Spanish and German workers get. It must protect good jobs, with decent wages, by keeping our trade free from tariffs and unnecessary bureaucracy. And it must end the disgraceful uncertainty for workers from other EU nations who’ve made the UK their home.
“The Brexit deal will define Britain’s future for a generation. We owe it to ourselves and our children to take the time needed to get it right.”
Susan Fanning, employment partner, Sidley Austin said:
“As we move towards triggering Article 50 this week the issue of what will happen to the 2.8m EU nationals who are living in the UK will come into focus again. Attempts by the UK Government to settle this with the EU prior to the trigger failed, as did the amendments to the Brexit bill which were tabled in the Commons and the Lords to secure their future on a unilateral basis. Therefore their position remains uncertain and the only indication there is at the moment as to how the issue will be approached is the Government’s white paper released earlier this month.
This white paper expresses the hope that the issue can be resolved early in the process but gives little clue as to what a new immigration status might look like for those already living in the UK or those who wish to enter the UK later on. However it is clear that the fate of EU nationals already here will depend largely on the position that the UK manages to negotiate in respect of U.K. nationals who currently live in the EU.”
Chris McCullough, CEO and co-founder at RotaGeek said:
“The triggering of Article 50 will inevitably have an impact on the business landscape for businesses of all sizes. However, this will inspire organisations to go through rigorous introspective processes. Seen from a very Darwinian point of view, great things happen in difficult environments. People fear uncertainty but there is a great opportunity in it – now is a time to become more focused.
“Personally, Brexit won’t change how we do business – especially not in terms of hiring. Hiring the best people, regardless of where they come from, is one of the most important building-blocks for innovation and success in the tech-industry.”
“Start-ups are defined by their agility and their creativity in difficult environments. There are so many huge questions that need to be tackled – for example on the rights of Europeans in the UK and vice versa. Yes, Article 50 must look to foster innovation, but it must do so through looking at the bigger picture and ensuring measures are in place to ensure Britain remains open for business and people. These critical and emotive issues need to be the focus of the negotiations.
“I believe the best outcome from the negotiations would be for the leaders of the EU to look at their situation and consult their member states about what people want to see form the European project. The EU brings so many great things, but Brexit proves that there is a disparity between what people who lead it want and what people who are part of it want. That’s what I want from the negotiations: to see the EU project improve.”
Chris Bryant, Partner at Berwin Leighton Paisner and the firm’s expert on Brexit:
“The Article 50 letter will get the most attention, but two other events this week will have a greater bearing on how Brexit affects businesses.
First, the draft Great Repeal Bill is set to be published on Thursday. The way in which the bill allows the government to amend EU laws as it incorporates them into domestic law will be hugely significant. This isn’t a simple copy/paste exercise. There are huge policy decisions to be taken across all sectors just to make the laws work on a standalone basis. The task ahead of government is immense and businesses will want to make sure their concerns don’t slip through the cracks.
Second, the scope of the draft EU mandate will be significant. Donald Tusk has said that he will issue draft guidelines within 48 hours of the Article 50 notice. However, he only has the power to issue guidelines on the UK’s withdrawal and not on the future Free Trade Agreement, which has to come from another EU institution. Whether Tuskish guidelines are accompanied by guidelines on a Free Trade Agreement will be critical. Without them, the European Commission will have no mandate to negotiate on the future UK/EU relationship.”
“Uncertainty is going to make HR’s life more difficult. However, in spite of the times that we live in, it is encouraging to see employers investing in the future of their employees through the benefits package.
“Whilst almost all employers questioned will see a budget rise in 2017, increased costs and the impact of Brexit will have wider ramifications on the HR strategy going forward, which we will all need to consider.”
Alan Price, Peninsula said:
“Peninsula has received a large number of calls from business owners this morning hoping for more clarity after the triggering of Article 50. The triggering of Article 50 starts a maximum two year negotiating process which small business owners will be watching closely. The final agreement reached between the UK and the European Union will have far reaching implications for businesses in every sector. There is already evidence that numbers of EU workers are falling and continued uncertainty surrounding their status may lead to a further decrease during this period, leaving to employers struggling to fill their workforce.
Varying immigration targets depending on sector and location have been discussed as one of the future possibilities but the government is playing its cards close to its chest to ensure they are in the best negotiating position when it comes to exits talks. For areas such as healthcare, hospitality, agriculture and manufacturing, reliance on EU workers is key, especially when used to meet fluctuating seasonal demands, and these employers will keep a close eye on the final immigration arrangements that are reached.”
Samantha Hurley, Operations Director at APSCo, comments:
“We welcome the fact that Article 50 has finally been triggered as this marks the beginning of the end of a period of perceived uncertainty for the professional recruitment sector.”
“Many of the issues that are likely to arise from Brexit will have either a direct or indirect impact on professional recruitment. Since June 2016 our members have been asking questions around how the UK’s exit will impact our sector, and now official negotiations are set to begin it is only a matter of time until we will receive answers, which allow businesses to plan accordingly.”
“Access to talent is a top consideration. When APSCo surveyed members on notable post-Brexit risks after the referendum, 83% were worried about the availability of candidates post-Brexit. It is critical that recruiters can continue to find the best available talent either from within the UK, the EU or elsewhere. Conversely, it is critical that UK professionals can continue to work throughout the EU. It is crucial that any changes to immigration rules after the UK has left the EU take into account the need for professional talent in both the UK and the European Union. APSCo will continue to call for realistic limits on immigration that allow the movement of professionals to the benefit of the whole economy.”
“APSCo is a global trade association and many of our members operate across borders. While continued access to candidates is, of course, vital, we must also consider the rights of the recruitment workforce itself. APSCo is concerned that the sharp rhetoric regarding Brexit negotiations could potentially obscure the rights of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens living overseas. It is critical for the recruitment sector that people from the EU working in the UK know where they stand – and soon.”
Feedback from the UK200 Group members:
The UK200Group is the UK’s leading membership association of chartered accountancy and law firms, whose members act as trusted business advisers to over 150,000 SMEs. A number of the UK200Group’s members have given their views on how the triggering of Article 50 will impact the SME community, spanning industries as varied as agriculture, fintech, charities and sole traders.
Jonathan Russell, Managing Partner at UK200Group member ReesRussell, said,
“Hopefully with the triggering of Article 50 much of the speculation and political positioning will cease, though I doubt it. We are in for a period of negotiation and in any negotiation the parties start at opposite ends of the spectrum and if successful the parties will move to a point where they can agree. However there must always be a point where the parties will not pass, and it is only when those points for both sides do not meet that a deal cannot be done. If a deal cannot be done then all that can be done is to walk away – in this instance Hard Brexit.
“Hard Brexit will suit neither the UK nor the EU and we will see where negotiations take us. UK has not been involved in such negotiations for many years and will have to find people with those negotiation skills. Equally, the EU may have negotiators but in the last 40 years they have not been successful in negotiating much; in part due to the need to get agreement from all individual members as well. As a single country UK can be more nimble in negotiations but with 26 members and different national objectives the EU may well prove obstinate.”
Chris Swallow, Partner at UK200Group member Howard Worth, said,
“The triggering of Article 50 will start the long journey to clarity on this matter. However the Scottish Independence referendum calls will give an added dimension. The calling of a new Scottish referendum was always on the cards.
“Having a presence in the UK, including Scotland, together with mainland Europe will be more important than ever and the UK200Group allows us to have this footprint.”
Trevor Cook, Partner at UK200Group member Baines Jewitt Chartered Accountants, said,
“It is understandable that there has been some unrest in the run up to triggering Article 50. Many individuals and businesses feel they are entering a period of uncertainty and there has been a lot of speculation. Until the formal discussions are underway, it is too early to predict exactly what changes will be made and what path the UK will follow in its future relationships.
“However, it is hoped that the forthcoming negotiations will have the UK’s best interests at heart, whether that means agreeing positive trading terms, taking advantage of the single market, understanding the impact on UK taxation, helping businesses and individuals to plan ahead or presenting the UK as an attractive place to do business.”
James Abbott, President of the UK200Group and Director at Abbott Moore, said,
“Latterly I perceive much of the comment has portrayed a feeling which has, at best, been apprehensive about the Brexit process and, at worst, been quite negative. Counter that with a few outspoken individuals who seem to acknowledge few of the challenges we face in the break-up and as ever, it’s difficult to draw conclusions about our future. I suspect the success of the UK’s negotiations will lie somewhere in between those expectations.
“Whilst I am genuinely confident in our nation’s ability to thrive in whatever environment we face, we as SME advisors can’t sit on our hands and wait for the uncertainties during the negotiation process to be ironed out. It’s essential that we continue to open up new conversations and strengthening existing relationships, we can support our members’ SME clients in taking advantage of the opportunities Brexit will create.”