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Fresh business warning as City boss laments lack of Brexit clarity

Fresh business warning as City boss laments lack of Brexit clarity
2 min read

Ministers have failed to give business any clarity over Brexit in the past year, a top City boss has said.

Sir Gerry Grimstone, who chairs Standard Life Aberdeen and Barclays bank said that while he believed the Government was listening to business, it had failed to provide any further certainty over crucial issues like future customs ties with the EU in the past year.

The comments are the latest warning from businesses to Theresa May over the slow progress of the Brexit negotiations.

Speaking in Edinburgh, the senior City figure said: "Business generally would like to know what the Government’s position is going to be.

"The message we are all giving them is, the sooner this can be brought to a conclusion the better.

"A year ago, people talked of the importance of certainty.

"We are now nine months away from it and we still have no further certainty. It is not a Brexit point. It is not a Remain point.

"It is a purely practical point. For us to all do the stuff we need to do we need to know what the running order is."

Sir Gerry warned that Standard Life had already drawn up plans to shift its 600,000 insurance and pensions clients to an Irish subsidiary.

He added: "Regrettably, all over the City people are having to do this. It is a lot of economic and legal activity which in other situations you wouldn’t do."

His comments come just days after Airbus threatened to leave the UK in frustration at the progress of the Brexit negotiations.

The aviation giant employs 14,000 people in the UK, but warned that it would be forced to relocate its operations to China or Europe if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal.

Tom Williams, the firm’s chief operating officer, told The Times: "In the absence of clarity, we have to assume the worse-case scenario. It is the dawning realisation that we now have to get on with it."

A Government spokesperson said: "We have made significant progress towards agreeing a deep and special partnership with the EU to ensure trade remains as free and frictionless as possible, including in aerospace... We do not expect a no-deal scenario to arise."

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