London – Prime Minister Theresa May is set to meet on Monday her counterparts from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for the first time in nearly two years to deliberate over the road towards Brexit, Downing Street officials said Sunday.
The bone of contention has been a divided majority on Brexit. While a majority in England and Wales voted for Britain to exit the EU in the June referendum, most of Scotland and Northern Ireland voted for Britain’s continued membership.
The prime minister is expected to take a hard stance and bluntly tell the leaders to work for all of the UK, and not just their respective regions.
“I want Monday’s meeting to be the start of a new grown up relationship between the devolved administrations and the UK government — one in which we all work together to forge the future for everyone in the United Kingdom,” May reportedly said.
May’s office said the leaders will “discuss how the administrations can work together to get the best deal for the UK and seize the opportunities” that exiting the EU will bring.
“The prime minister wants to build a new industrial strategy for the whole of the UK, to spread wealth, jobs and opportunity more evenly. The UK government is resolute in its commitment to strengthening the union further and making a success of the opportunities ahead,” a Downing Street official said.
The committee, if agreed upon, would meet at least once every 12 months and first ministers would be invited to help build an industrial strategy that would spread wealth and employment more evenly in and around UK.
May has been vocal over her intention to trigger Article 50, which sets a two-year deadline on Britain’s departure from the EU, between January and the end of March.
Heading into Monday’s meeting, Scotland’s Brexit spokesman has said Edinburgh should be treated as an equal partner in the EU exit negotiations.
“We have yet to see a proposal from the UK government on how the views of people in Scotland will be taken into account,” he said.
On the other hand, the head of the British banking lobby has admitted that some bankers could move out of London as a result of Brexit – but that the capital will survive as one of the world’s leading financial centers.
Writing for ‘The Observer’ newspaper, Chief Executive of the British Bankers Association Anthony Browne said that banks would ‘pull out of the UK wholesale.’
Browne warned that “barriers to the trade in financial services across the Channel will make us all worse off, not just in the UK but in mainland Europe.”
He also repeated comments are made at an industry conference in London last week, when he said: “Their hands are hovering over the relocate button.”
“Businesses can’t wait to the last minute. It takes years to move operations. Banks might hope for the best but have to plan for the worst,” he wrote.
“Most international banks now have project teams working out which operations they need to move to ensure they can continue serving customers, the date by which this must happen and how best to do it.”
“Many smaller banks plan to start relocations before Christmas; bigger banks are expected to start in the first quarter of next year,” he continued.