The British people opted for change when they voted on June 23 for the U.K. to negotiate an “exit” from the European Union. Such a choice is the sovereign right of any member of the EU, but it is also without precedent: The EU has expanded but never shrunk since the 1952 founding of its precursor, the European Coal and Steel Community.
Now comes the hard part. Whether this break with the status quo benefits the U.K. in the long run will depend chiefly on the choices awaiting newly installed Prime Minister
Theresa May and her cabinet in the months ahead. Choosing well can assure a prosperous future, just as poor choices may prove costly.
The U.S. business community has a tremendous stake in Britain’s success, and we are rooting for the best possible outcomes. But we won’t be passive observers. American companies’ investments in Britain are worth $588 billion, and many of those investments were made to reach not just British consumers but those in the European mainland as well.
Consequently, U.S. businesses are committed to working with the U.K. government to ensure that the priorities of these stakeholders are taken into account in the debates that lie ahead.
For Britain, last month’s referendum opens the door to a host of negotiations. The U.K.’s first order of business, by far, is to negotiate a new trade and investment relationship with the EU, which accounts for approximately half its trade.
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