Political climate concerns heighten as Brexit storm clouds gather

The week has been all about climate, but there have been stark differences between the climates around a range of issues that will impact the insurance sector globally, writes Jon Guy.

The climate in Glasgow for COP26 remains positive if not a little frayed, with many believing that an agreement will once again go to the last minute and that what results will not be the result the UK Government and climate activists will deem a success.

What is clear is that the finance services sector will be expected to play a part in the delivery of any agreement and that is likely to include shouldering much of the burden of funding the steps required to move to net zero and slow the impact if climate change.

At least however, the climate is far warmer than in Brussels where European Union and UK negotiators are still at loggerheads over the Northern Ireland agreement.

Things are looking decidedly gloomy with the comments emerging from both side proving they are still poles apart. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson looks determined to play hard ball over the need for the EU’s treatment of Northern Ireland to change.

UK Brexit minister Lord David Frost has been warning that the UK will invoke Article 16, under which it either side can suspend part of the Brexit agreement unless the situation is changed.

The EU, for its part believes that it has made enough concessions in order to ease the tensions between the two. However it too is now playing hard ball particularly the Irish Government which is less than impressed with any attempts to halt the current frictionless trade between the Republic and Northern Ireland.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has hinted the EU could terminate the Trade and Cooperation Agreement in response to any move by the UK to trigger Article 16.

Coveney said that if the UK did suspend parts of the Northern Ireland deal it would be “deliberately forcing a breakdown in relationships and negotiation between the two sides”.

Either side can give 12 months’ notice that they intend to terminate the TCA, but the end of the trade deal would have huge impacts for both sides of the Brexit deal.

Frost told the House of Lords that article 16 would be Britain’s only option if talks with the EU failed but had said the talks still had some way to run.

“Although we have been talking for nearly four weeks, there remain possibilities that the talks have not yet seriously examined, including many approaches suggested by the UK. So there is more to do and I certainly will not give up on this process unless and until it is abundantly clear that nothing more can be done,” he explained to peers.

He has told the EU it needs “stay calm and keep things in proportion” but the political pressure is building in the European Union with many of the member nations’ governments facing upcoming elections and as such are loathe to be seen to climbing down in the face of British pressure.

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