Davos WEF
Davos WEF

'We can't live with this uncertainty' over Brexit: Lloyd's CEO

Key Points
  • Brexit negotiations are entering a second phase which will focus on a trade deal once the U.K. leaves the European Union in March 2019.
  • The chief executive of insurer Lloyd's of London told CNBC that businesses "can't live with this uncertainty" in the meantime.
  • Inga Beale told CNBC on Wednesday that Lloyd's, one of the world's oldest insurers, had "taken its future into its own hands."
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The ongoing Brexit negotiations are still causing anxiety for U.K. firms, with the chief executive of insurer Lloyd's of London telling CNBC that businesses "can't live with this uncertainty."

Inga Beale said Wednesday that her business, one of the world's oldest insurers, had "taken its future into its own hands" and was going to open up a subsidiary in Brussels. She added that around 2 billion euros ($1.76 billion) of the company's business has to go through an EU-based entity and it will lose all of its licensing post-Brexit.

"Other businesses will be doing the same, we can't live with this uncertainty," she told CNBC at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.

"The uncertainty is really not helping the population at large, and people want to know what's going to happen, but of course we've just started to see the pound start to recover a little bit against the dollar so it looks like there could be a bit of confidence coming back."

The U.K. government and EU negotiators are set to enter a second phase of negotiations centering on a trade deal after a difficult first phase of negotiations focused on the "divorce bill" and how much the U.K. owes the EU before it leaves, the thorny issue of EU and U.K citizens' rights post-Brexit and the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

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Vague agreements have been reached on all three issues, allowing the U.K. and EU to progress to the second phase. Beale said businesses and the British public wanted more certainty about the post-Brexit order.

"This is a difficult debate to have out in the open, in other words, there's a lot of posturing having to go on. So business doesn't know the inner workings and what's really being negotiated behind the scenes so we're still living with uncertainty," she said.

Beale said that businesses like hers hoped that by the end of the first quarter of 2018, the U.K. government would offer more clarity on whether there would be any implementation period and transitional arrangement once the U.K. leaves the bloc in March 2019.

"This would give some comfort to business but it's not going to be providing any legal certainty. In spite of what they might be able to negotiate in terms of 'do we have another two years, three years or four years to implement the exit?' but that's not necessarily going to help us and we need certainty."