There’s only one game in town when it comes to Brexit news this week: the High Court Ruling on the activation of Article 50.
The High Court Ruling:
On Thursday, the High Court issued a ruling stating that only Parliament has the power to trigger Article 50 and begin the formal Brexit process.
This is something of a spanner in the works for Theresa May and the Government who had hoped to be able to take the decision alone based on their preferred Brexit timeline. Their argument was that the referendum result gave the Government the authority to act on behalf of the people. However, campaigners successfully argued that authority must come from Parliament – as the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, said:
“the most fundamental rule of the UK constitution is that parliament is sovereign.”
The Government are set to appeal this decision (a further hearing is expected next month) and continue to insist that, one way or another, Article 50 will be activated by the end of March 2017.
What does this mean for businesses? Well, for now, more uncertainty. Until the Government’s appeal is concluded, we won’t know for sure how Article 50 will be activated. And if it does come down to it a vote, theoretically, Parliament could vote against it (cue even more delays and uncertainty).
However, the news (and other announcements of the day, see below) proved a boost for the beleaguered pound as the decision rekindled investors’ hopes of a “soft Brexit”. The domestically focused FTSE 250 also rallied.
There was good news from the Bank of England on Thursday. Their latest Inflation Report revised up predictions for economic growth in 2016 and 2017 (although the 2018 forecasts were revised down) as the economy continues to beat pre-referendum predictions. However, they also revised up predictions on inflation in response to the current currency situation.
There was further good news in the form of the Purchasing Managers Index for October, which indicates that the UK’s services sector grew at its fastest rate since January. However, there was no escaping the impact of exchange rates as October also saw the biggest ever one month rise on input prices.
Finally an announcement you may have missed in a week brimming with Brexity news: Brexit has officially been named the Collins Dictionary word of the year. Yes, usage of the word has grown by more than 3,400% this year alone. In fact it’s become such a dominant feature of discourse the world over that it’s hard to believe that the term only came into use in 2013. Congratulations Brexit, this is one accolade that, in my humble opinion, is most definitely well deserved.
This Week at the Chambers:
Every week is a busy week at the Chambers. As the steady march towards Brexit is becoming the “new normal” we’re focusing our efforts on helping the city-region forge our own path through uncertainty.
On Tuesday we launched the fantastic Birmingham Economic Review 2016 at a packed out launch event. Delivered by City REDI in partnership with the Chamber and Marketing Birmingham, these high quality reports offer in-depth analysis of the city’s economy. The reports cover three core topics: the structure and geography of the economy, workforce and skills and enterprise and business opportunities. In a time overflowing with uncertainty, we’re working on shoring up our knowledge base so that we, and stakeholders in the city, are in the best possible place to make decisions that will meaningfully benefit residents and businesses. You can read the reports here.
We’ve been busily keeping members informed about major announcements. We issued press responses to the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee decision (click here) and Living Wage Week announcements (click here).
Finally, we’ve been listening closely to what our members are telling us. On Thursday we held our latest Business Transport Group meeting focused on Midlands Connect and Birmingham Airport. We also held our final Chamber Council meeting for the year, with the discussion focusing on forthcoming campaigns.
Speaking of listening to members – we will be launching our latest Quarterly Business Survey on Monday. Please do take part, every response counts and feeds into our rather useful and informative Quarterly Business Reports (click here for the latest).