Flags of Britain and the European Union, Brexit – illustration photo.
London – An unusual meeting took place this week at a historic mansion in the English county of Oxfordshire. Over the course of two days, representatives of both main British political parties, representatives of large businesses, diplomats and also analysts gathered there to discuss the difficulties arising from Britain's departure from the European Union and possible ways to remedy them. This was reported by the Sunday Observer, which obtained materials about the program of the summit meeting and also the testimony of one of the participants.
The meeting, hosted by the country estate of Ditchley Park on Thursday and Friday, was shrouded in secrecy, according to the paper. It brought together supporters of Brexit, such as the member of the British government Michael Gove or the former leader of the Conservative Party Michael Howard, and the faces of the opposite camp including Labour's David Lammy or the Conservative David Lidington. Among the non-political participants were the chairman of the board of the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline John Symonds or the senior manager of the Goldman Sachs bank Oliver Robbins – the former was the main British negotiator in the Brexit negotiations.
Materials distributed at the meeting, according to The Observer, described the event as a “private discussion” with the theme “How can we make Brexit a success together with our European neighbours?” The unnamed participant assessed the meeting as constructive, the big topic according to him was the negative effects on the British economy.
“It was about how to move from the 'remain' and 'leave' positions to the problems we are facing now and how we can put ourselves in the best position to try to discuss with the EU changes to the mutual agreement on trade and cooperation,” the source said.
The Observer evaluates the meeting of opponents and supporters of Brexit as very unusual. It reflects “a growing acceptance, among politicians in the two main parties, as well as among business leaders and officials, that Brexit in its current form is damaging the UK economy and weakening its strategic influence in the world,” the paper wrote.
Britain left the European Union at the start of 2020 following a referendum in June 2016, with a new partnership agreement between the two parties coming into effect in 2021. Opinion polls in recent months suggest that a majority of British voters see leaving the EU as a mistake .
The UK's independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) estimates that Brexit will result in a four percent drop in Britain's gross domestic product (GDP) over the 15 years from 2016. In a detailed analysis from last October, the Financial Times pointed to other signs of damage to the British economy, as well as the absence of more concrete ideas about the possible economic benefits of Brexit. However, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said a month later that “Brexit can and has brought huge benefits and opportunities to this country”.