A delegation of City businesses will head to Germany after the election in a bid to gauge the new government's stance on Brexit negotiations.
Lobbyist Iain Anderson is bringing together a delegation of 10-12 major City businesses who will visit Berlin in early November. It is hoped the Cicero-led initiative, which includes lobby group TheCityUK, will provide firms with greater clarity to "calibrate" their contingency plans as official talks crawl forward.
Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats are widely expected to win the 24 September election, with polls consistently giving the incumbents a double-digit lead above Martin Schulz's Social Democrats.
"Nothing moves" until after the government has been formed, Anderson said, suggesting phase two of the Brexit negotiations – which will open up talks to include the nitty-gritty of a future trade deal – might be delayed until the end of the year. There are already question marks over whether sufficient progress has been made in phase one – dealing with citizens rights, the divorce bill and the Irish border – with the leaders of Slovenia and Ireland this week both warning the October checkpoint will be missed.
But many businesses will be poised to trigger their contingency plans before Christmas, which could see a potentially unnecessary exodus from the City if 11th-hour deals are ultimately reached.
"This [delegation] is really about getting a sense of where German politicians are," Anderson explained. "If we are in phase two, great, if not, we need to know what the German reaction is towards getting there and what are the road blocks. It’s absolutely crucial in terms of what City firms are planning."
Anderson added: "If we are unable to move onto phase two, then frankly people will be intensifying contingency plans from October onwards. It's just not good enough to have a response that says 'it'll be alright on the night'."