Britain’s £40 Billion-a-Year Untapped Trade Potential

Britain’s untapped trade potential will comfortably offset any effects of Brexit on exports to the EU, new research by the think tank Open Europe has found. Their new report in conjunction with Prosperity UK has located £41 billion-a-year of under-performing non-EU export markets. Remarkably, Britain is currently on track to under trade with India, Canada and Israel by £10 billion-a-year…

Membership of the EU has stopped the UK trading freely with faster-growing non-EU countries, though the report argues we should not focus solely on Free Trade Agreements, instead seeking bilateral investment treaties and targeted agreements to address particular trade issues. It argues for greater engagement with India, Canada, Israel and China prioritising UK service exports. These are practical, sensible solutions to make Brexit work from Open Europe’s director Henry Newman, who says:

“With the right trade policy, the UK can seize the opportunities that Brexit will create, while compensating for its impact on exports to the EU… whatever Government is formed after 9 June, it should prioritise trade with India, Canada, and Israel, and – in the case of services – China. The UK needs a trade policy to fit the future and by 2030, our model indicates, the UK will have £41 billion of untapped trade potential with the top ten countries for goods and services.”

The parlous state of Britain’s exports was immediately identified by Theresa May’s government when they took office. Liam Fox, far from twiddling his thumbs as some tiresome Remainers would have you believe, has spent most of his time at DIT trying to get exports up to shape. There is a lot of work to be done but this will be key post-Brexit…

How Do You Solve a Problem Like 73 Empty Seats?

Meanwhile in Brussels… the European Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs is meeting today to scratch their heads on a tricky problem: Brexit Britain will leave behind 73 empty seats in the chamber. The next European Parliament elections are in 2019. What to do with those empty seats…

  1. Abolish them: The simple answer would be to abolish the United Kingdom’s seats and shrink the European Parliament (from 751 to 678 – not exactly a deep cut). But cutting the number of MEPs would mean leaving a lot of officials with less work to do and would be a symbolic body-blow. Is this likely to happen in a super-massive bureaucracy?
  2. Redistribute to other member states: The obvious answer – but then the question becomes how to distribute 73 seats between the remaining EU-27. You could even out the number of seats so as to distribute them equally between the remaining countries. Or you could distribute them proportionally according to the current number of MEPs per country. Or you could distribute them to less-represented countries. The numbers on this are being crunched
  3. Create a pan-European list: The most intriguing possibility is that Britain’s seats could be re-allocated to form a pan-European list, meaning every EU citizen could have a say in who should replace British MEPs. A European electoral college would run alongside the current party system. The idea ran into trouble in committee earlier this year but is still being actively campaigned forEurophiles call this “making elections European again”…
There is one other answer, of course. Who cares?

Public Still Not Sure What Labour and LibDems Believe on Brexit

A deeper dive into the Lord Ashcroft’s latest Brexit poll reveals the public remains confused about Labour and the LibDems’ position on Brexit almost a year after the historic referendum vote. The full report shows an near perfect four-way-split amongst respondents when asked to name Labour’s position. Remarkably, the majority think Labour “would still like to prevent Brexit from happening if at all possible” despite Jeremy Corbyn making media appearances for months to emphasise that his party will not seek prevent Brexit and “respects the will of the people“. Either people are not listening or Jeremy is not getting enough cut through…

As for the Lib Dems, almost 37% of respondents “don’t know” the party’s position at all – but at least those who do come to a consensus. Meanwhile, UKIP and the Tories dominate in the battle for clarity on Brexit…

Item Club Quadruples GDP Forecast

Independent economic forecaster the Item Club – sponsored by City professional services giant EY –  today reports a headline prediction of 1.8% GDP growth for 2017. This is well up on even the 1.3% prediction it made last October. And it is incredibly well up on its post-referendum forecast…

The Item Club sent shock-waves through the City last summer when it downgraded its forecast for 2017 GDP growth to an absolutely dismal 0.4% after the Brexit vote. This prediction of dread set much of the business media agenda: the Item Club is taken seriously because it uses the same economic models as the Treasury. Between July 2016 and today the Item Club has revised up its forecast by an eye-popping 1.4%…

Peter Spencer, chief economic advisor to the Item Club, said today:

“Although the starting gun for Brexit has just been fired, the UK economy has been adjusting to life outside the EU since the referendum…”

And the Item Club has been adjusting its numbers…

Siemens U-Turns, Now Talking Up Brexit Opportunities

Siemens is Europe’s biggest manufacturing firm and employs 15,000 people in the UK. During the referendum the company was a paid-up member of Project Fear, sending out doom-mongering statements threatening to pull investment from Britain in the event of a Leave vote:

“Brexit would disrupt the economy in the short-term and we believe that uncertainty about the UK’s future relationship with the EU could have more significant and negative long-term effects… [this] could make the UK a less attractive place to do business and may become a factor when Siemens is considering future investment here.”

Yesterday, Siemens chief executive Joe Kaeser met Theresa May at Downing Street where he said he was “confident and optimistic” about the “big opportunities” in Brexit Britain:

“There is no reason not to invest tomorrow, if there is a demand and a commitment from the customer. I am willing – and the company is willing to invest – further. There are more opportunities than risks for us.”

Who’dathunkit?

European Parliament Resolution Response Leaked

With the support of the leaders of the main integrationist blocs; Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE), Manfred Weber (PPE), Gianni Pitella (S&D), Philippe Lamberts/Ska Keller (Greens/EFA) and Danuta Hübner, Chair of the Constitutional Affairs Committee this now leaked draft resolution will probably be tabled later today. Under the slogan “United in Diversity” it is a tough starting position, warning there will be no giving ground. We shall see…

To download and read the Draft-Resolution in full click (PDF).

Hat-tip: Guardian

Hammond: “Can’t Have Our Cake and Eat It” on Brexit


Over to you, Boris…

Anti-Brexit Protest on Whitehall Last Night

The continuity remain campaign summed up in one person…

Nige vs Bad Al Campbell Brexit Bust-Up

Red-cheeks and a lot of huffing and puffing on the Good Morning Britain sofa today…

FT’s David Allen Green Triggered By Article 50

Spare a thought for the FT’s columnists – they are really having a tough time of it at the moment. Take David Allen Green, the paper’s legal commentator who has been imparting his Article 50 wisdom to readers of the pink ‘un. In a column headlined “The three steps that mean Brexit may never happen”, DAG voiced his belief that Article 50 may never be triggered:

“Unless Leave create another moment of opportunity – another wrong-footing of the established order – so as to force through the required Article 50 notification, then it may not happen at all.”

Then there was his column titled “Brexit: the facts”, in which he again argued Article 50 might never be triggered:

“There are a number of reasons why a notification may never be sent. During the referendum campaign, the prime minister sought to give the impression that the notification would be sent “straight away”. But when he resigned he said it would be a matter for his successor. It may well be that if the notification was not sent on the day of the referendum result, it may never be sent.”

He couldn’t have been clearer in this tweet:

David’s latest update is that the triggering of Article 50 is now “more likely than unlikely”. He has given up on making predictions:

“My only prediction now is that those who doubted that the Article 50 notification would ever be seen will get a good-natured ribbing by those who never had such doubts.”

8 days to go…

Toyota Invests Quarter of a Billion in UK #DespiteBrexit

Toyota today announces an investment of more than a quarter of a billion pounds into the UK, contrary to previous warnings from the firm and car market analysts over Brexit. The Japanese company has a major plant near Derby where it manufactures its Auris and Avensis models. About 75% of cars made at that plant are exported to EU nations. Last year the FT warned:

“The Leave vote could be the final straw for the two Japanese carmakers… Ahead of the referendum, Toyota had already warned of “huge cost reduction challenges” at its plants in Burnaston in Derbyshire and Deeside in north Wales if the UK faced a 10 per cent tariff on exports to Europe.

“The reality is that it’s nearly impossible to make profit considering that they had not made much money over the past two decades. Can you keep holding on to a perpetually lossmaking operation in Britain?” said Koji Endo, analyst at Advanced Research Japan.”

Experts…

OTT Tasmina Asks About Deporting EU Citizens

This is the level of debate from zombie Remainers like the SNP’s Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh: asking the government if they have considered establishing a deportation process for EU citizens. The government has repeatedly said it will guarantee the rights of EU citizens once the EU reciprocates for Britons. It is the EU that is holding back an agreement. Talk of rounding up French and Germans in Britain and deporting them is quite mad. As Remainer scrutiny of Brexit goes, this is particularly naff.

Vodafone Boss: Mobile Roaming Charges Won’t Rise Post-Brexit

The claim that mobile phone roaming charges would rise post-Brexit was one of Project Fear’s best lines. Hence why it was parroted time and time again during the referendum:

  • Treasury: Abolition of roaming fees would not include Britons if UK leaves EU
  • Tim Farron: “From the cost of food and petrol to mobile phone bills, Brexit is hitting consumers in the pocket”
  • Britain Stronger in Europe: “Being in the EU means you pay less for… mobile roaming charges”
  • Deloitte report said using your phone abroad could become more expensive post-Brexit
  • Financial Times: “British mobile phone users face bills of up to €50 for each song they stream while roaming in the EU”
  • Guardian: “UK tourists face mobile phone roaming charges post-Brexit”

Indeed, Britain Stronger in Europe explicitly used the words “more roaming charges on mobile phones” on this graphic:

Today, the chief executive of Vodafone has signalled that post-Brexit mobile phone costs are not likely to rise. Vittorio Colao dismissed talk of increases as “not very logical”. He continued:

“We treat Switzerland, which is not part of the EU, as part of it so why would we not treat the UK that way?

The claim costs would go up was peddled by the Treasury and the official Remain campaign. Seems, once again, that it wasn’t true…

Britain’s Brexit Negotiating Cards

Bloomberg has a handy series of charts showing the strength of the UK’s negotiating position relative to the EU. On defence, among the EU states, only Britain and France have nuclear weapons. Britain’s defence spending outstrips all other EU nations by at least £20 billion. The EU will still rely on British expertise for defence and security after Brexit…

The UK has the joint second largest number of votes on the IMF board among EU countries.

Brussels will face a shortfall of almost 12 billion Euros in their budget when Britain leaves. Preparations for the next EU budget round will begin around the time the UK leaves, increasing the pressure on Brussels bean counters.

The City of London is home to the continent’s largest banks and trillions of Euros of their assets.

The UK is one of the richest European economies and its GDP per capita far outweighs the EU average.

Obviously, Britain was one of the EU’s most attractive destinations for internal migration. Remember, the negotiating hand is strong…

UK GDP Beats Predictions and Exports Up… Again!

UK GDP growth for the fourth quarter of 2016 has been revised higher this morning to +0.7%, higher than the expected +0.6%. The Office for National Statistics revealed export growth of 4.1%, which alongside a fall in imports of 0.4% means net trade added 1.3% to growth. Brexit Britain’s boom continues to defy the ‘experts’…

UK Food and Drink Exports Hit All Time High

Britain exported a record £20 billion of food and drink last year, as sales to the US rose by 12% and China entered the top ten UK food export market for the first time. The numbers bode well for Andrea Leadsom and Liam Fox:

  • UK food and drink exports grew by nearly 10%;
  • UK food and drink sales to the USA up 12%;
  • UK exports of salmon to France up by 31%;
  • UK food and drink exports to Germany up by 12%;
  • UK pork exports to China skyrocketing to £43 million, an increase of over 70% (China entered the top ten UK food export markets for the first time, with export growth of nearly 50 per cent);
  • Exports to Malaysia grew by a whopping 143%;
  • India emerged as one of our priority markets thanks to growing demand for Scotch whisky, global sales of whisky grew by 3% to reach over £4 billion;
  • Last year exports grew in nine out of ten of the UK’s leading export markets including USA, China and Hong Kong.

It remains the case that just one in five UK food producers are currently exporting, so there is masses of room for improvement. It is in vogue to say the Brexit-focused departments are twiddling their thumbs until we leave. In truth they are kept busy by the job of getting exports up to scratch alone… 

Police: “No Evidence” Brexit Caused Spike in Hate Crime

Essex Police, one of the country’s largest police forces, has sent out a statement denying a link between the referendum result and the rise in hate crime reported last week. They believe the increased figures are caused by an increase in reporting:

“There is no evidence to suggest any increase has been specifically and directly caused by any one event or issue… There has been an increase in reports of alleged hate crime across Essex, which mirrors a national trend. Hate crime is significantly under-reported and we believe that greater awareness and confidence in the police response has contributed to these increases in reporting.”

An interesting corrective to the media narrative that Brexit is behind the spike… 

EU Commission: Brexit Better For Britain Than We Thought

The European Commission has been forced to scrap its gloomy UK growth forecast and revise up its estimates despite the Leave vote. City AM reports Brussels bureaucrats begrudgingly upped their prediction for 2017 UK GDP growth to 1.5% from a 1% forecast made last November. At the time EU pen-pushers said:

“Risks to the forecast have risen in recent months and are clearly tilted to the downside, including as a result of the UK ‘leave’ vote, which has raised uncertainty and can be seen as an indicator of heightened policy risks in the current volatile political environment.”

In Brussels they are eating their words…

Guido’s Brexit Timeline: All the Key Dates For Your Diary

Last night’s historic Commons vote drives Brexit forward and all eyes are on what happens next. Here’s Guido’s rundown of crucial events in the coming months.

February 

20-21 Article 50 Bill Second Reading, House of Lords. The government doesn’t have a majority in the Lords. Labour peers promise not to derail the Bill, but rogue Lords could cause trouble. The majority of Lib Dem peers want a second referendum and single market access which the government has set its face against.

27-28 Article 50 Bill Committee Stage, House of Lords. If the Lords do make major amendments to the Bill they will be discussed in detail over two days.

March

7 – Article 50 Bill Third Reading, House of Lords. A Bill amended by pro-EU peers seeking to frustrate Brexit would be returned to the Commons for “ping-pong” – but government sources have threatened peers that the Lords could be abolished if they take this course. Otherwise, a non-amended Bill will become law.

8 Phillip Hammond delivers the Budget, a key opportunity to build on May’s 12 principles and present in more detail the economic vision for Brexit Britain.

9-10 European Council meeting in Brussels. An obvious opportunity for May to formally tell EU leaders that Britain is leaving.

13, 14, 15 Days on which the Commons will undo any Lords’ amendments.

25 – EU Summit to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Treaty of Rome. Awkward.

31 – May’s deadline for enacting Article 50, triggering a two year negotiation window for a Brexit deal to be in place before the March 2019 European elections.

Then the real work begins…

PwC’s ‘Serious Economic Shock’ Turns Into Brexit Boom

Before the referendum the EU-funded PricewaterhouseCoopers wrote the infamous CBI report claiming Brexit would cause a “serious economic shock”, costing £100 billion and 1 million jobs. Today they have performed a screeching u-turn, now claiming Brexit will lead Britain into an economic boom.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Michael Crick on Safe Seats:

“In effect, new MPs are being elected day by day now, as, amid huge secrecy, small cabals of party bigwigs pick candidates for safe seats.”

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