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Halfway to Brexit, is the glass half full or half empty? Both.

Halfway to Brexit, is the glass half full or half empty?

We are officially halfway out of the exit door. In exactly a year from now, the UK will formally leave the EU and enter a transition period lasting until 31 December 2020.


So, expect a lot of press column inches to be devoted to this subject today, with a great deal of crystal ball-gazing about how successful the British government might be in securing an orderly exit from the EU.

In case you had somehow forgotten what is at stake for London, the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) warned on Tuesday that the capital will be at “immediate risk” of a £22bn economic hit in the event of a hard Brexit.

The CEBR said London was more exposed than the rest of Britain to a cliff-edge departure from the European Union (EU) because of its dependence on the services sector – particularly financial services – and its reliance on a skilled workforce from Europe.

A “no-deal” scenario next March would see the capital’s economic growth slump compared with the rest of the UK, the CEBR added.


It said Brexit could cost London a total of 5.5 per cent of growth - equivalent to £22bn of output - over 15 years.

Meanwhile, in the glass half full camp, the think-tank Z/Yen said this week that London remains the world’s leading financial centre. The City topped its annual global financial index, fending off competition from New York, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Progress is subjective

Whatever your view on Brexit, the truth is that while progress has been made towards an orderly exit from the EU, we simply don’t know whether it will eventually be achieved or not.

A year to the day from the triggering of Article 50 - the official firing of the Brexit starter pistol - Britons remain as divided on the issue as ever. And people’s entrenched views continue to colour most predictions on how Britain will fare when it eventually splits from the EU.

Both the CEBR report and the Z/Yen report have been used to justify positions around Brexit.

Remainers have used the CEBR report to predict doom for Britain after Brexit and especially for the City of London.

Meanwhile Brexiteers have used the Z/Yen index to point to the inherent strength of the City by suggesting that, regardless of Brexit, London will retain its status as a global financial centre and pointing out that London was the only European city in the top 15 in the global index.

Bored of Brexit

For everyone else stuck in the middle of these two competing, bickering groups, the last twelve months will have felt incredibly long and somewhat tedious.

If Brexit fatigue hasn’t yet set in yet, it’s likely to in the next twelve months.

Even after next March, trade negotiations are expected to drag on well into the transition period.

And then there is the Prime Minister’s admission on Tuesday that the transition period may need to be extended for customs arrangements to be agreed, or else Britain may have to remain in an effective customs union beyond December 2020.

And we haven’t even mentioned the really difficult issue of the Irish border yet.

So, Brexit has got a long way to go before we stop hearing about it.

As much as some may celebrate today, telling us there is just one year to go until we “take back control”, there is almost certainly only one thing we can be sure of.

Brexit and our relationship with Europe will likely dominate our daily lives for decades to come.

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