LONDON (ICIS)--The UK’s Prime Minister Theresa May is to officially step down on Friday, triggering a leadership contest in her Conservative party that will put Brexit plans on hold for up to two months.
In May, the Prime Minister announced she was to step down on 7 June, although she will remain as caretaker prime minister until her successor is appointed, a process that could take until the end of July.
May resignation was caused by her inability to convince the UK’s House of Common to approve the Withdrawal Agreement agreed with the EU, which granted the UK an extension for the Brexit deadline, originally planned for 29 March.
While some of the candidates to succeed have said a no-deal Brexit would not be an option, others support leaving the 28-country bloc on 31 October without a deal if the UK cannot achieve changes to the current Withdrawal Agreement.
The UK’s chemicals trade group the Chemical Industries Association (CIA) said on Friday afternoon that despite an acting Prime Minister for a few weeks, the work of preparing for Brexit would be filled by the civil service.
“We hope that while the key political decision-making role is unfilled the civil servants will be hard at work mapping out the options in detail to allow for a speedy decision based on the available circumstances,” said CIA.
“We do not feel that waiting until the third week of July is too significant compared to the three years of uncertainty we have already experienced.”
While the current Withdrawal Agreement contemplates a permanence of the status quo until 2021, the future relationship between the EU and the UK remains unclear.
CIA said that its priorities remained unchanged, demanding that “whoever leads the government” it would like to continue enjoying “frictionless free trade” for the chemicals industry, as well as regulatory consistency with the EU’s Reach framework, and access to skilled workers under the free of movement the EU provides.
“What we then need, without question, is for that decision to be taken – by the new Government and the EU - on what sort of Brexit we will have,” it concluded.
(Update: Adds UK's CIA reaction from paragraph 5)