For our first Brexit event since the summer break, the chamber welcomed Philip Rycroft, DExEU Permanent Secretary to give an Update on EU Exit planning.
There was a very broad range of issues discussed at the round table event. After Theresa May’s meeting with the EU in Salzburg, members were eager to hear what Mr Rycroft’s message would be. It had previously been reported that the Irish border had been one of the main issues in the negotiations, with neither side wanting to budge. May’s Chequers plan saw a border with easy access for both sides, whereas the EU didn’t want to provide a free passage into the single market. However, it is clear that both sides wish to strike a deal.
There were many topics discussed during the breakfast, including the progress of a deal between the EU and the UK, the processes of withdrawal including voting and scrutiny in Parliament, how the deal is implemented, the transition period and how long this transition period will be. In addition, the whitepaper released before summer was discussed so that any issues could be clarified as much as possible. Our members were able to receive clear answers on Chequers and how further communication from HM Government will come out in the future.
The progress of the negotiations will have to wait until the next meeting, however all eyes are currently on the UK Conservative Party Conference that is being held this week. What is debated in Birmingham this week can set the tone for the negotiations in the future.
Morten Peterson, one of our Co-Chairs for the EU-UK Future Relations Committee was able to comment on the event:
“Discussing the meaning and purpose of the UK’s recently published technical notices on a no deal scenario [no withdrawal agreement] it is fair to conclude that the UK Government not only seeks to establish the facts of what will technically happen in the context of no withdrawal agreement, but also to communicate to stakeholders that a “no change approach” will be the leading thread of the present UK Government in case of a no deal scenario.”
Permanent Secretary (Department for Exiting the European Union) | Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU)
Philip Rycroft was appointed as Permanent Secretary at the Department for Exiting the European Union in October 2017. As Permanent Secretary, he will have responsibility for supporting the department in the negotiations to leave the EU and establishing the future relationship between the UK and the EU. Before taking up this role, he was Second Permanent Secretary at DExEU. Philip was appointed Second Permanent Secretary, Head of UK Governance Group in the Cabinet Office in June 2015, with responsibility for constitutional and devolution issues, and retains this role. From 2012 to 2015 he was the Director General in the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office, supporting the Deputy Prime Minister across the full range of his policy interests. Prior to that, he was Corporate Affairs Director at Hutchison Whampoa (Europe) Ltd. Previous roles have mainly been in government, including: Director General, Innovation and Enterprise and Chief Executive of the Better Regulation Executive in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills Director General, Education in the Scottish Government Head of the Enterprise, Transport and Lifelong Learning Department in the Scottish Executive. Philip also spent time on secondment from government with Scottish & Newcastle plc and in the Cabinet of Vice-President Leon Brittan in the European Commission.