The City has a loud voice in the Brexit debate

Christian May
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EU Referendum - Signage And Symbols
The government is paying attention to businesses' advice following the EU referendum (Source: Getty)

How are we to discern the government's evolving Brexit strategy? Should we sit patiently and wait for strategic leaks? Should we scrutinise every handwritten memo photographed on its way into Downing St?

Should we listen to the barrage of voices off, demanding action or concession in certain areas? Perhaps we should simply wait for the judges to instruct the government on how it should proceed.

In truth, we must do all of the above. We should also remind ourselves that as the government prepares to embark on the biggest diplomatic challenge for generations, it is also engaged in one of the largest consultations in the history of policy-making.

To take the City as just one example of sector-specific lobbying efforts, there are nearly a dozen different groups currently talking to the Brexit department, No 10 and the Treasury about their concerns and desires regarding a Brexit deal.

Read more: What will Brexit mean for the City?

One such group, whose interests cover the City as well as broader business concerns, is the International Business and Diplomatic Exchange. The group's chairman, Sir Roger Gifford (a former Lord Mayor of the City of London) convened its members and officers for a briefing last week at the top of the Shard.

Over 50 high-level executives attended for a discussion held under the Chatham House rule. Much of the conversation centred on how business can help shape government thinking on both the terms of Brexit itself and the establishment of a future UK-EU relationship. “One of the positive things to have come out of the referendum,” observed one attendee, “is that government has never been more willing to heed the advice of business”.

Read more: Editor's notes: Still in shock over Brexit? Get a grip

Another pointed out that while many on the continent regret the UK's decision to leave, they accept it and are now urging both sides to strike a reasonable compromise that won't inflict unnecessary damage to either party. Savvas Savouri of Toscafund writes in today's City A.M. that a so-called soft Brexit is in the EU's economic interest. His is a persuasive voice, and it joins a cacophony of City interests currently in conversation with the government. Not everyone in this conversation will like all of what they hear, but nor can they claim that they weren't given a fair hearing.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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