The British pound slumped Monday after Prime Minister Theresa May said the U.K. would begin the process to exit the European Union by the end of March. WSJ reporter Jason Douglas explains what may be ahead. Photo: Getty Images
AS BRITISH Prime Minister Theresa May leads Britain begrudgingly out of the European Union, more complications set to arise with Brexit are revealing themselves.
Britain’s banks are claiming the split will cost them up to $67 billion and leave up to 70,000 jobs at stake, according to a new industry report.
And while the nation’s decision to withdraw from the politico-economic union was originally thought to be good news for Australians wishing to live and work in Britain, it turns out Britain has other plans.
Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has in recent days backflipped on his position on Brexit and has praised Britain for its decision to leave, but it now appears one of his big reasons for doing so may be misguided.
Speaking on a panel of conservatives at an event in Birmingham today, the former PM repeated his admission that he was “quietly thrilled” when he discovered Britain had voted to leave the EU.
After declaring the Brexit decision a “watershed moment” for Britain and the wider world, Mr Abbott spoke of his hopes for Australia’s relationship with the newly freed nation, including getting Aussies in good British jobs.
“I don’t believe for a second that Britain will be alone and isolated in the post-Brexit world, certainly I think that Australia would very much hope to be at the front of the queue in negotiating our economic relationship,” he said.
Closing remarks from @TonyAbbottMHR at @spectator @SkyUK #brexit debate #speccieontour pic.twitter.com/7D3J5ixYu5
— Spectator Events (@SpectatorEvents) October 4, 2016
“Unlike other trade deals, this should be about genuinely free trade, completely free movement of goods without tariffs and quotas, full mutual recognition of standards, qualifications, and free movement of people, not to bludge, but to work, to work in good, high paid, productive jobs, which exist in both our countries.
“May this be one of those times when we are optimistic about what we can do. May this be one of those times when we reach out rather than build walls against each other.”
But walls are going up.
Although Brexit cheerleader and now Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has advocated for a stronger relationship between Australia and Britain, Home Secretary Amber Rudd has said she has no plans to increase the UK’s intake of Aussie migrants.
The British government instead plans to encourage companies to take on more local workers.
Companies will be forced to reveal how many foreign staff they employ, and, Mrs Rudd proposed during a speech this week, would be “named and shamed” over the proportion of international staff on their books.
Along with Australians, the post-Brexit world is looking grim for British banks.
An industry report previewed by Bloomberg estimates Britain leaving the European single market could cost banks and associated businesses in the UK almost 40 billion pounds, or $A67 billion.
The report by Lobby group TheCityUK also warns of a potential 70,000 jobs and $17 billion pounds of tax revenue at risk.
Prime Minister Theresa May has ruled out prioritising protection of banks in Brexit talks, and has dismissed the industry’s demand for an interim deal with the EU as the transition out of the bloc progresses.
Ms May announced over the weekend Britain would begin the formal process of leaving the European Union by the end of March 2017.