Brexit: Five things we learnt this month - March
A round up of this month's biggest Brexit news.
1. Article 50 triggered
The two-year process of Britain leaving the European Union was officially triggered on 29 March when Britain’s EU ambassador handed a letter from the Prime Minister to EU Council President Donald Tusk.
In the letter Theresa May said that the UK’s decision to leave the EU “was no rejection of the values we share as fellow Europeans” and it was not “an attempt to do harm to the European Union”.
At a press conference in Brussels, Mr Tusk said it was not a “happy day” for him, and that the EU will “miss” the UK.
In a statement in the Commons, Mrs May said: "Today the government acts on the democratic will of the British people and it acts too on the clear and convincing position of this House."
She added: "This is an historic moment from which there can be no turning back."
2. Large businesses planning to move activities out of the UK, ICAS Brexit Tracker reveals
At least one in four large businesses in the UK are considering transferring some activities to elsewhere in the EU as a result of Brexit, according to a poll of finance professionals.
The findings come from a survey of members of ICAS, the professional body for more than 21,000 world class business men and women, in association with leading law firm Brodies LLP.
The majority (59%) would also favour continued participation in the EU Single Market, even though almost all (98%) believe that will not be the outcome of the Brexit talks.
3. Fight against corruption could suffer because of Brexit, OECD warns
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has warned that Brexit could hamper the UK Government’s ability to fight corruption.
A new report by the group says that pressure to weaken bribery law and a lack of focus on non-Brexit issues could give multinationals leverage over the British government in bribery cases.
While it praised the work of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the “solid progress” made in recent bribery investigations, the report warned that many civil society groups are worried that “Brexit could increase the risk of UK companies threatening to relocate and potential loss of UK jobs as a bargaining chip in negotiations with prosecutors over charges”.
The report continued: “Given that the SFO has on its books some very large UK companies that are significant partners in the government’s industrial strategy, this is a real concern for several NGOs in the UK.”
Duncan Hames, director of policy for Transparency International UK, said the OECD report “reinforces how important it is to maintain the independence and prosecution of serious bribery offences”.
4. Deutsche Bank shows “commitment” to The City with new headquarters
Despite worries of an ‘exodus’ from The City by financial institutions post-Brexit, Germany’s biggest lender Deutsche Bank has agreed a 25-year lease on new headquarters in the Square Mile.
The new development, planned to be built at 21 Moorfields, is pencilled in for completion in 2023.
Quoted in City AM, Deutsche Bank’s UK chief exec Garth Ritchie said: "The move underlines the bank’s commitment to the City of London and the importance it attaches to being an employer of choice in the capital”.
5. R&D key to Brexit-proof economy, say CBI
Spending on research and development must be increased to ensure the UK economy is Brexit-proof, according to the CBI.
The group has launched a campaign urging the Government to increase the target for R&D spending from 1.7% to 3%, which it believe can be achieved by 2025.
A report from the group said: “Much of what we need to deliver a world-class innovation ecosystem is already in place. The UK has first-rate universities, cutting-edge businesses and attracts talent from across the globe.
“But our spending on R&D has stagnated at just 1.7% of GDP, with both public and private sectors under-investing.”
Felicity Burch, the CBI’s head of digital and innovation, was quoted in The Guardian saying: “Now is the moment for the UK to up its game and try and move the needle in terms of where we are on innovation."
She added that “we actually need to think quite seriously about what our economy looks like and how we compete globally now.”