Keeping our capital working for the UK

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What Brexit means for London business

wh-on-europeOn the 24 June London faced up to the challenge of how to get the best out of Brexit and to build new relationships, with the European Union and the rest of the world.

As we enter the autumn, it is clear that the way forward will be a marathon, not a sprint. London First has been busy working out the best approach:

Listening to members

Over the summer, London First held a series of consultations with members. A full report on their feedback is here. Some clear issues emerged, chief among them: access to the Single Market, availability of skilled talent, certainty for EU citizens working in the UK, and financial services passporting.

We will continue to listen and facilitate an exchange of insights amongst our membership and with broader stakeholders, including follow up member events in November.

Positioning with new governments – GLA and national

Our task now is to engage with the new government and the new mayoral team in a way that makes a real difference.

We have already made inroads: establishing constructive dialogues with the Mayor and his team of Deputies.

We have established lines into nine key Ministers within the new national government, from housing to Brexit, and will be building engagement in key departments.

We have also convened with partners such as the London Business Board and City of London to ensure we deliver effective impact.

Alongside this we will be doubling our efforts on domestic policy in an effort to reduce uncertainty for business. We have written to the new Chancellor, Philip Hammond, ahead of the Autumn Statement urging greater certainty on domestic policy to help build business confidence.

Crafting London’s future, in the UK and in the world

There is no sector or region that isn’t feeding in forcefully to the government’s preparations, so we are therefore focussing on the key issues.

London 2026

First, we want to take a look at the thriving London economy of the future: what will the sectors be and what are the jobs that young people want? Also, how can we make sure that the London economy of the future sits more easily within the rest of the UK, spreading economic development, as well as contributing to the exchequer?

We are commissioning a study and hearing from young people and other parts of the UK, – guided by a group of entrepreneurs. This is a calling card to the government that we are looking for the best possible future post-Brexit.

Towards an industrial strategy

Drawing out the critical factors for future success across sectors and regions will also allow us to feed in positively to the government’s negotiations and inform its new industrial strategy. This will report by December ahead of Article 50, as with anything here, please let me know if you’d like to know more.

Refreshing London’s Economic Development Agenda

A much larger piece of work will be to refresh our 2015 report – London 2036: An Agenda for Jobs and Growth – completed in partnership with the London Enterprise Panel.

This economic development agenda is the first business-led plan for London, setting out priorities to drive jobs and growth in the capital between now and 2036, when the population is expected to reach 10 million.

The vote to leave the European Union is clearly a major event. Although many of the challenges facing London will not have changed, the strategy will require refreshing and stress testing for the new realities that the Mayor will be navigating. We will work hand in hand with members and London government to achieve this over the autumn.

Ensuring access to talent

Finally, immigration and skills remain key issues. London First has a track record of both speaking out boldly, and looking for new solutions, to sustain the talent pool available for London business.

We are commissioning research to establish the real facts for business and to use that as a base to play strongly into the government over Brexit. Again, please do let me know if you’d like to know more or be involved.

What good looks like

We will know if we are getting to the right place if, by the end of the year, we have engaged with the new government and the Mayor on the best possible economic future for London, within the UK and facing the wider world – and business is making a difference.

The above will position us to go forwards with agility into 2017 and what lies ahead.

Contact: Will Higham,

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