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UK Business Hates Brexit, But Opposes Second Referendum

St. Paul's Cathedral, London, United Kingdom
St. Paul's Cathedral, London, United Kingdom
Emma Ross Thomas

LONDON — The plot to reverse Brexit is missing a key ally: U.K. business. Companies have been among the most outspoken critics of the split from the European Union, and have much to lose from a divorce gone wrong. But as a group of lawmakers tries to engineer a second referendum, business leaders are recoiling.

"Business likes certainty and I can't see how discussion of a second referendum helps create that certainty when the negotiations are not even concluded," says Miles Celic, chief executive officer of TheCityUK, the finance industry's lobby group.

Businesses are uninterested in politics. They want commercial predictability.

The campaign for a popular vote on the final divorce deal that Prime Minister Theresa May brings back from Brussels later this year is gaining a bit of traction. Two recent polls have indicated there may be popular support for a vote on the terms of Brexit. The Institute for Government think tank sees a mechanism for Parliament to engineer another plebiscite later this year.

Financial district, London Photo: Rob Bye

It's worth remembering that there's no evidence a second referendum would produce a different result and it's far from clear there's a majority in Parliament to send weary voters back to the ballot box. There would be much debate on the question posed, and there would probably have to be some kind of extension to the Brexit day deadline. Pound investors also reckon sterling – now at post-referendum highs – would take a hit.

"Businesses are uninterested in politics. They want commercial predictability," said Paul Hardy, Brexit director at law firm DLA Piper. "Those who have spent a lot of money on it are ready to deal with it."

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How A Xi Jinping Dinner In San Francisco May Have Sealed Mastercard's Arrival In China

The credit giant becomes only the second player after American Express to be allowed to set up a bank card-clearing RMB operation in mainland China.

Photo of a hand holding a phone displaying an Union Pay logo, with a Mastercard VISA logo in the background of the photo.

Mastercard has just been granted a bank card clearing license in China.

Liu Qianshan


It appears that one of the biggest beneficiaries from Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to San Francisco was Mastercard.

The U.S. credit card giant has since secured eagerly anticipated approval to expand in China's massive financial sector, having finally obtained long sought approval from China's central bank and financial regulatory authorities to initiate a bank card business in China through its joint venture with its new Chinese partner.

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Through a joint venture in China between Mastercard and China's NetsUnion Clearing Corporation, dubbed Mastercard NUCC, it has officially entered mainland China as an RMB currency clearing organization. It's only the second foreign business of its kind to do so following American Express in 2020.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that the development is linked to Chinese President Xi Jinping's meeting on Nov. 15 with U.S. President Joe Biden in San Francisco, part of a two-day visit that also included dinner that Xi had with U.S. business executives.

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