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Daily Brief: Crunch time for Brexit, GSK CEO RSVP from Trump

A round up from pharma, biotech and healthcare


Theresa May looks to enforce ‘soft’ deal on ‘hard’ Brexiteers

After two years of uncertainty and squabbling within the Conservative party over how Brexit should be done, Prime Minister Theresa May has assembled her cabinet at her country retreat Chequers to produce a final plan for life outside the EU.

May is said to have been belatedly persuaded by recent interventions from big business, including Airbus, Jaguar Land Rover, BMW and others that a ‘hard’ Brexit would be disastrous for the country – and is understood to be advocating a very close alignment with the EU, albeit still technically outside the single market and customs union.

This is a rapid, last-minute u-turn, but the prime minister will aim to find a compromise solution which can retain many benefits of close regulatory alignment and frictionless trade, while still exiting the EU.

The prime minister faces a potential revolt from Brexiteer cabinet ministers such as Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Environment Secretary Michael Gove, but is expected to warn them that if they reject this plan, more moderate Conservative MPs are likely to unite with Opposition MPs in favour of staying in the customs union, with legislation due before parliament next week.

Even if May does manage to win over her own cabinet doubters, however, it is far from assured that the EU27 will approve such a deal by October, when a final deal must be agreed – and a rejection could send the UK government back to square one.

Business leaders have become emboldened in recent weeks, speaking out against the chaos and uncertainty in the UK plans. One of the most outspoken is Airbus CEO Tom Enders, who this morning commented that the UK had “no clue how to execute Brexit without harm.”

Read more at the Guardian:

Government has no clue how to execute Brexit without harm – Airbus chief

Takeda to sell Osaka HQ to help cover Shire costs

Takeda’s $63bn purchase of Shire is the biggest pharma merger for some years, and the Japanese pharma company is making some tough decisions to pay for the outlay.

The Nikkei Asian Review reports that the firm is to sell off its Osaka headquarters to help reduce its debt resulting from the acquisition, which has quadrupled to 4 trillion yen ($36bn).

The company is now negotiating the sale of buildings and land, but won’t relocate, and will instead lease the buildings back from the eventual owners.

Guess who’s coming to dinner – pharma leaders get Trump invitation

GlaxoSmithKline’s Emma Walmsley and J&J’s Alex Gorsky are among 150 business leaders who have been invited to dine with Donald Trump when he visits the UK next week.


The Financial Times reports that the black-tie dinner will be held on Thursday night and is to be hosted by Prime Minister Theresa May, as part of the President’s three-day “working visit”. However Trump’s visit has been surrounded by controversy and protest since it was first mooted last year, and has been downgraded from a formal state visit because of fears of a hostile reception on the streets of London.

Other business leaders invited to the event, which some believe could be held at Winston Churchill’s birthplace, the stately home Blenheim Palace. These include Steve Varley, EY chairman and managing partner for the UK and Ireland, Richard Gnodde, chief executive of Goldman Sachs International and Paul Polman of Unilever.

The question of whether or not to accept the invitation is a dilemma for many CEOs, with outrage against Trump’s treatment of immigrants into the US, and the imposition of new trade tariffs just two of the issues causing consternation.

Some business leaders have already made their excuses and declined the invitation. Martha Lane Fox, co-founder of said: “I understand why the government have to entertain Trump, but I certainly don’t want to.”

Read the full Financial Times story here (subscription required)

Article by
Andrew McConaghie

6th July 2018



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