January 23, 2017

For a long time British Prime Minister Terry May would say only that Brexit meant Brexit. Eventually she bowed to pressure and revealed that Brexit meant Brexit meant Brexit. Now she’s gone even further, publicly stating that Brexit means whatever it turns out to mean once she’s exhausted all the optimism and ambition she and her crack team can muster in securing the best possible meaning for Brexit that the 27 other EU member countries are prepared to allow us. Either that or we’re going to become some sort of cold water Cayman Islands.

Insurers couldn’t be more delighted to have the government’s plans laid out in such exhaustive detail – especially as she’s made it pretty clear the best possible Brexit is very unlikely to include membership of the European Single Market, of the European Free Trade Area, the European Customs Union or the European anything else for that matter. “The Prime Minister’s speech,” noted Huey Evans of the Association of Brutish Insurers, “has provided greater clarity on her Brexit aims as we head toward the triggering of Article 50.”

This allows British Insurers (most of whom are not actually British Insurers but French, German, Swiss, American etc.) to start putting together their plans to protect themselves against the impact of the best possible red white and bluexit that now seems inevitable. All they now require, they have confirmed, is a little more clarity Ms May’s timetable and a bit of extra time in which to stage an orderly withdrawal. That and any hints she can drop on whether there’s any chance at all they might retain the so-called piss-potting rights that currently allow them trade freely throughout the EU – or something like them.

From a broker perspective, Graeme Truncheon of fashion house BIBA has said he’s glad the prime minister has indicated she’s not planning to drive the UK off a cliff edge (unless it’s the one with the aforementioned cold water Cayman Islands at the bottom of it) and says he and his members would like “a period of five years” – like in that song by the late great David Bowie.

Speaking of the great and good of the pop and rock world, Keith Richards CII said he’d been visited an ominous vision of “a widening wall of nervousness” over Brexit in the insurance world (see artist’s impression below). “Economic confidence across the insurance profession is at its lowest level since 2011,” he said, and “nearly half of those working in insurance expect the economy to deteriorate in 2017.” But what does he know!

In entirely unrelated news, leading British insurer Zurich is planning to shed 240 jobs in the UK as it does a bit of routine integration that will see the firm “remove some roles from the UK business.”

Meanwhile historic institution Lloyd’s of London (or just Lloyd’s as it prefers to be known these days) has denied it has any immediate plans to change its name to Lloyd’s of Frankfurt or anywhere else continental – although it might be getting a flat over there somewhere – for when it has to go away on business – doesn’t mean its relationship with the UK is in trouble or anything.

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