It was never going to be as straightforward as pulling a trigger and there has been much speculation as to how exiting the European Union would play out, but yesterday Theresa May laid down her plans for future of the UK, and the response from the Insurance Industry was largely positive.
Among her key objectives was the intention to leave the single market of the EU behind and focus energies on a “bold and ambitious Free Trade Arrangement”.
Steady in his belief that the insurance industry is “large and robust enough” to cope with the change, Ivor Edwards, corporate insurance partner at law firm Clyde & Co, welcomed May’s intent.
“Her specific focus on maintaining freedom to provide financial services across borders and talk of a phased approach will be welcomed by insurers and other financial services firms, all of whom crave clarity, stability and a sense that their interests are being represented,” he said.
BIBA’s Steve White noted that the contents of May’s speech gave no cause for concern.
“There is nothing that the Prime Minister has said that contradicts our position, that our members have access to a tariff-free barrier-free single market,” commented White.
The chairman of BIBA was overall “pleased” with what was outlined. “She has said all the way along that she won’t show her hand, that is understandable,” White said.
“What she has shown us has given us quite some encouragement and ticks most of the boxes that we have been asking for.”
The disclosure from Parliament was accompanied by revelations from Lloyd’s of London, who announced that they were making their own preparations for Brexit, which included a possible move to Europe. It is believed that there are five locations currently under consideration, including Dublin.
While noting that “economic confidence across the insurance professions is at its lowest level since 2011,” Keith Richards, managing director of engagement at CII, was encouraged by May’s acknowledgement of economic risk.
“Although the Government has not offered the defined transitional period that we were asking for, it has acknowledged the risk of an economic and legal ‘cliff edge’ and the impact it could have, and proposed a ‘phased period of implementation’ to give firms that much needed breathing space to consider what the new EU-UK partnership could mean for them,” he said.