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This Week in Brexit: 11th October

GBCC

Despite the slightly distracting matter of the US election there has been plenty of Brexit-related news this week to fill our Brexit blog:

The Economy

Both the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 enjoyed upward ticks this week following Donald Trump’s victory in the US Presidential Election. Although both indexes fell towards the end of the week, they remain at markedly higher levels than at this point last Friday.

The Pound saw similarly strong performance this week despite some mid-week volatility. Against the Euro the pound rose above 1.15 on Thursday; its highest level since early-October. Against the dollar the pound rallied to over 1.25.

On Tuesday, the ONS released its Production Index figures for September. The stats highlighted that UK manufacturing output had increased by 0.6% in September. This was more than originally forecast and compares well to the 0.2% increase that was seen in August. However, total industrial production fell by 0.4% largely as a result of poor output in oil and gas production. The ONS said that the figures revealed that there were no clear signs that Brexit had yet impacted upon UK factory output.

On Wednesday, the latest UK trade statistics were released. The figures revealed that the UK’s total trade deficit for goods and services had narrowed by £1.6 billion between Quarter 2 and Quarter 3. This was mostly driven by a £4.5 billion (6.1%) increase in exports of goods. However, between August and September the UK’s trade balance widened by £1.4 billion.

Politics

Despite having to wait in line behind nine other world leaders, Theresa May spoke to President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday. Trump highlighted his personal connections to the UK and the strength of the special relationship was discussed. Trump’s victory could be notable for Brexit as his attitude towards the UK will have a large bearing on future trade negotiations. Earlier in the year Obama made it clear that Brexit would put the UK at the ‘back of the queue’ where trade talks were concerned.

Theresa May also used a visit from Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, to assure the circa 95,000 Hungarians working in the UK that their situation would not worsen following Brexit. 

Following the High Court’s ruling earlier in the month that the UK parliament must vote on triggering Article 50, the Government announced that it would seek to appeal the decision at the Supreme Court. This week it was confirmed that the appeal would be heard over four days from 5th December. The decision is expected in the New Year.

On Monday, the Government refused to confirm whether the Acquired Rights Directive, a measure that safeguards the jobs of workers in taken-over-firms during takeovers, would be incorporated into British Law through the ‘Great Repeal Bill’.

Thursday saw Chancellor Philp Hammond describe the UK’s relationship with China as ‘more important than ever and promise a ‘golden era’ of relations following Brexit. His words came after the announcement of a number of deals with Chinese investors including that Chinese contractor CITIC Construction would invest £200 million into the first phase of the London Royal Albert Docks project.

Also this week, the London Chamber of Commerce released a report which recommends a ‘London work visa’ in an attempt to encourage the 770,000 EU nationals living in the capital to remain in the city following Brexit.

This Week at the Chamber

This week, we were visited by Robin Walker MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department of Exiting the EU. He met with Paul Faulkner, Chief Executive of the GBCC and Corin Crane, Chief Executive of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce. He also took part in a roundtable with a number of local businesses from the green tech and energy sectors to discuss the needs of local businesses and the Government’s approach to Brexit.

On Wednesday morning the British American Business Council held a US Post-Election Breakfast hosted by Birmingham Airport. Delegates heard from Paul Faulkner and a panel of three experts who discussed the political and economic implications of Trump’s electoral victory. Paul called for stability for businesses following the result and described the importance of the UK-US relationship. You can read our US Election press release here.

On Thursday we held our November Patron’s Lunch. The lunch was sponsored by the Leadership Trust and hosted by Pinsent Masons. The guest speakers at the lunch were Mark England, Team GB Chef de Mission for the Rio Olympics, and the Banking Standards Board. The discussion focussed on performance and ethics in sport, banking, and business.

Also on Thursday, our Director of Policy and Strategic Relationships, Henrietta Brealey, attended a City Vision for Birmingham meeting at the city council. The meeting involved a wide range of local stakeholders and was aimed at identifying key themes from Birmingham and developing a distinctive, collaborative, and people-focussed vision for the city.

This week saw us start collecting responses for our Q4 Quarterly Business Survey. The survey is a key element of the GBCC’s policy work and it allows us to closely track local business confidence and analyse economic trends.  The survey doesn’t take long to complete and allows us to better understand local business sentiment and how we can effectively represent you. Please click here to access the survey.

We’ve also been finalising the details of our upcoming Apprenticeship Reforms Update event which will take place between 07:30am and 09:30am on Tuesday29th November. The event will be hosted by Pinsent Masons and represent a great opportunity for you to learn about the Government’s Apprenticeship Reforms and how you will be affected from our expert speakers. There will also be the opportunity to discuss the reforms with other local business leaders and feedback your thoughts to us. You can find full information and book onto the event here.