Today Britain and the EU officially begin the first day of formal Brexit negotiations, “aiming for a constructive, orderly launch that avoids a noisy clash on the big policy differences over Britain’s exit”, according to the FT although the sellside reaction was decidedly less optimistic, as summarized by SocGen’s Kit Juckes who in previewing today’s events said that he expects “nothing because the UK position is as clear as mud’ beyond growing signs that the UK wants free trade without being part of the customs union or conceding grounds on borer controls.”
To be sure, no breakthroughs are expected on Monday, or indeed for some weeks and possibly months to come. The idea is for the EU and UK sides to meet, exchange views, plan practicalities and set agendas, all ahead of more detailed talks in coming weeks. ‘This is about building trust, nothing more,’ said one senior EU diplomat quoted by the FT.
Looking at today’s main political event, DB’s Jim Reid writes that the Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond suggested yesterday in a TV interview that a gentle departure from the EU should be targeted. The Chancellor indicated that ‘transactional structures’ would be needed to help smooth the process and that ‘we need to get there via a slope, not via a cliff edge’ – suggesting a softer tone in negotiations. In contrast to the PM, Hammond also rejected the mantra ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’. Hammond also said that his position was one of a ‘jobs first’ Brexit which is also a slight shift in tone compared to the PM. Separately, Hammond said that the UK government had ‘heard a message last week in the general election’ and that ways to soften austerity were being looked at with voters seemingly growing ‘weary’ of it.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 19, 2017.