DAVOS, Switzerland — The global chairman of “Big Four” consultancy firm Deloitte says that there were two good things to emerge from Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech on Tuesday, which outlined for the first time how Britain would be approaching Brexit talks.
David Cruickshank told Business Insider at the World Economic Forum that while the speech was still fresh and May is still to speak again — this time on stage at WEF on Thursday — there were some positive takeaways from what she said.
“[May’s speech] was only yesterday but now we have a plan. I am not sure I really agree with the terms ‘hard Brexit’ or ‘soft Brexit’ but there were two good things from [the speech],” Cruickshank told BI.
“Firstly, there was a recognition of an implementation period which recognises that it would take time for the City to adjust to the changes [from a Brexit]. There have been a number of bodies calling for that, so they have time to reorder their affairs so there is no systemic shock — which is a good thing.
“The other thing is that there is a recognition that it is beneficial to have something equivalent to the arrangements of the customs union. But that needs to be negotiated and 27-members need to agree on it.”
“It has only been one day but there is a plan and that’s good. Comments from people I have spoken to [at Davos] and yesterday evening were generally pleased.”
Deloitte is one of the largest professional services firms in the world and hires nearly 250,000 people across the globe. As of 2016, it was the 6th largest privately owned company in the US. It has, however, due to its multi-national status, a huge presence in Britain and is a key employer in London. It also advises some other of the world’s largest companies in auditing, tax, consulting, and financial advisory.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed that Britain plans to leave the Single Market as part of its withdrawal from the EU. She also said she would terminate Britain’s membership of the free-trade area to have full control over immigration from the European Union.
This was confirmed by Chancellor Philip Hammond, who told the House of Commons on Tuesday morning that Britain would no longer be in the European single market once the Brexit deal is finalised. “We will go forward understanding we cannot be members of the single market,” he said on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is going to tell delegates at the WEF meeting that the prime minister’s plan for a “hard Brexit really would be a lose-lose situation.”
A “hard Brexit” is effectively shorthand for Britain leaving the European Union without access to the Single Market in return for full control over immigration into the country.
Khan will say, according to excerpts from his speech sent to Business Insider, that privileged access to the Single Market is “critical for London — nothing else will do.”
“A ‘hard Brexit’ would cut Europe off from its only truly global financial centre. This would be bad news for Europe as well as Britain. So a hard Brexit really would be a lose-lose situation,” he will say to an audience in Davos.
“Tell your political leaders that a ‘hard Brexit’ deal is not in the best interests of your company. This won’t be easy. But I’m confident that despite the Prime Minister’s rhetoric, there is still a sensible deal to be done.”