Business should begin drafting their own provisions for Brexit deals, a senior international trade lawyer has warned, because government is unlikely to pick up the slack.
Miriam Gonzalez, co-chair of Dechert's International Trade and Government Regulation practice, told City A.M. that firms are failing to do their “homework”, and provide positive contributions to the Brexit debate.
And talks with Brussels have begun in an acrimonious atmosphere, Gonzalez said, meaning contributions from business are likely to particularly important.
The lawyer, who is married to former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, told City A.M. that she is helping clients to draft provisions for bilateral deals to apply for specific sectors.
Gonzalez said the work reflects the need for firms to be proactive and support government work for negotiations.
“It's work that the government should be doing but it's impossible given the range of issues and the fact that now there is a general election,” Gonzalez said, adding ministers may have been slow in its own efforts to draw up early agreements.
“My sense is that there isn't a lot of work done of drafting relevant provisions,” she said. “But whoever has the drafting pen has the initiative.”
It comes after leaks from a Downing Street dinner with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker have seen German press brand the meeting a disaster, while Prime Minister Theresa May accused EU officials and politicians of interfering with the election.
Juncker has since said that the leaks were a mistake but Gonzalez, a former WTO negotiator, said it nonetheless represents a “highly unusual” opening of talks.
“I do realise that there are important elections on all sides but to see a leak of a private conversation over dinner is unusual, and to accuse the EU of meddling in your election? I don't know of any other examples of this,” she said.
“They all have to improve,” Gonzalez added. “We can't negotiate with that level of hostility. Everybody needs to calm down and to lower the temperature. The economic interests of everybody is at stake.”