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This Week in Brexit: 25th November

GBCC

Five months on from the referendum vote and this week’s news is still dominated by the events of 23rd June.

This Week in Politics

Monday saw Theresa May give a speech to the CBI in which she stressed that her Government would protect the “JAMs” (Just About Managing) citizens from any economic fallout post Brexit. As a precursor to the Autumn Statement, the PM announced plans around increased funding for R&D projects and investment in patient capital projects. On a final note, Mrs May seem to suggest that a Cliff-Edge Brexit would not be feasible.

Tuesday saw President-elect Trump suggest that former UKIP Leader Nigel Farage would make an ideal choice for the UK’s Ambassador to the US. 10 Downing Street sources were quick to note that no vacancies existed. Later in the week, Mr Farage was again in the deadlines when he warned of a “seismic” shock at the next General Election if Brexit was not delivered.

On Tuesday, David Davis met with Guy Verhofstadt, Chief Negotiator for the European Parliament and a man that Davis had made an unfortunate reference to Satan in previous briefings. A range of topics were discussed around the UK’s extraction from the EU with Mr Davis seemingly changing his opinion on Mr Verhofstadt and referring to him as a “nice man”.

On Wednesday, all eyes were on the publication of the Autumn Statement, however in the midst of the Chancellor’s announcement, the news came through Thomas Mair had been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of former Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox. A week before the EU referendum, Mrs Cox, a vocal campaigner for the Remain camp, was shot outside a local library before she was due to hold a constituency surgery.

Thursday began with a number of political bodies responding to Phillip Hammond’s first Autumn Statement (see below). However, the day was marked by the reappearance of the former Prime Minister, Tony Blair. Having closed down his various commercial operations, Mr Blair stated in an interview with the New Statesmen that the decision to leave the EU could be reversed if Britons changed their minds. Nevertheless, the former leader of the Labour Party ruled out a return to frontline politics. Sir John Major also made a speech suggesting that a second referendum could take place if the British people had the appetite for it.

Friday saw the Prime Minister of Malta give an interview in which he reiterated that EU leaders were not “bluffing” over Brexit. Joseph Muscat reiterated that Britain would not have any access to the Single Market if they did not agree to the overarching principle of free movement. Malta is due to assume the presidency of the EU in January, just two months before Mrs May has indicated that she will trigger Article 50.

This Week in the Economy

News in the economy this week was focussed on the The Autumn Statement. You can find a link to our briefing paper on what the Budget means for businesses here.

Reaction to the budget was mixed. Some broadsheet newspapers noted the assured tone that Mr Hammond took throughout his delivery, however, others were somewhat downcast about the prospects ahead for the British economy; in particular the Guardian noted that increased borrowing, lower growth rates and higher inflation all pointed towards a protracted period of pain for the country.

On Friday, the IFS warned that British workers faced the biggest squeeze in pay for 70 years and that wages had struggled to recover to the levels of 2008. However, it was not all doom and gloom for the Chancellor, many Tory MPs felt the IFS figures had been overly pessimistic and a number praised Mr Hammond’s plans to boost Britain’s stagnant productivity levels by introducing a National Productivity Fund which is worth £23bn over 5 years.

This Week at the Chambers

On Tuesday, the Chambers hosted a Breakfast event at Bank in Brindley Place, with special guest speaker, Scott-James Eley, Supply Chain Manager for HS2. Mr Eley was enthusiastic about the ongoing and future opportunities for Birmingham businesses to be a part of the HS2 supply chain long into the decades to come.

Thursday saw the British Chamber of Commerce hold its annual awards evening. The event, which took place at the Brewery in London, saw a number of regional Chambers recognised for their excellent work and our very own Greater Birmingham Chamber was nominated for a number of awards including recognition for the Policy Team’s work on the EU referendum.

This week also saw the GBCC team making final preparations for the Apprentice Reform Event which is taking place on Tuesday 29th November and is hosted by city law firm Pinsent Masons. Organisations will be invited to a seminar to discuss and understand how Government reforms will impact on their businesses, click here for more information.

Finally, we have almost completed surveying for our next Quarterly Business Report. This is your chance to tell us how your business is doing and for us to feed this information back to local and national stakeholders. To thank those who take part, we will be entering all respondents into a prize draw for a Moseley Serve Afternoon Tea for 2 at The Edgbaston Boutique Hotel & Cocktail Lounge (terms and conditions apply). The Survey closes on Monday 28th November, so please click here to take part, it takes only 3 minutes to complete!