City groups want "the right Brexit deal – not the quickest one"

William Turvill
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Reports on Sunday suggested the UK's departure from the European Union could be delayed until late 2019 (Source: Getty)

City groups are unconcerned by the prospect of a delayed departure from the European Union, urging the government to get the terms of Brexit right for business.

“Brexit is permanent, so what difference does a few months’ delay at the beginning of the process make?” an Institute of Directors spokesperson told City A.M. after it was reported that the exit could be delayed until the end of 2019.

They added: “Businesses want the best deal for Britain, allowing them easy access to single market, and that means the government should not trigger Article 50 until it feels it has the right negotiators in place.”

Read more: We might be waiting a while longer for Article 50 to be triggered

David Learn, infrastructure director at London First, told City A.M. that, for businesses he works with, the priority is “getting the right deal, not the quickest one”.

Learn added: “I think there’s a general acceptance and expectation that that will take more time rather than less time.”

The Sunday Times first reported that ministers have privately warned senior figures in the City of London that Britain could remain in the European Union until late 2019.

Prime Minister Theresa May was expected to trigger Article 50 in January next year, with two years of Brexit negotiations to follow.

But this may have to be delayed because her Brexit and international trade departments will not be ready. It was also reported that Article 50 could be put off until after the French and German elections, in May and September next year.

Read more: Don't start Brexit until autumn next year says Khan

Learn said: “For the most part, we’d expect there to be an inherent complexity here and the fact that other countries with whom we will want to forge alliances have their own political challenges and timetables and elections will inevitably mean that things might take longer than they would in an ideal world.

“That’s a fact of life.”

London mayor Sadiq Khan last week called on May to delay the triggering of Article 50 until after the French and German elections.

“I lost the argument and now it’s for them to persuade the EU how we can get the best of both worlds, how it’s possible to have access to the single market and not have free movement of labour,” Khan told Sky News.

“Maybe waiting for French and German elections to be out of the way gives the new French president or German chancellor more of a chance for latitude for some of the things that the British public say we need.”

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