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This Week in Brexit: Politics 16th September

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce

This Week in Brexit: Politics

The leaders of the EU member states (excluding the UK) meet in Bratislava today to discuss the future of the EU in light of Brexit. While we await the outcome of this momentous gathering, here’s what’s been happening so far this week in Brexit:

The Government

It’s been a relatively quiet week on the Brexit front:

For a change, Theresa May’s week was not dominated by Brexit but by her Government’s controversial stance on new grammar schools. That being said, she did bandy strong words on the subject of Brexit with SNP’s Angus Robertson at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.

On Saturday, the Times revealed controversial comments made by the Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox, in a discussion about future trade deals. His comments alluded to British business not exporting enough, becoming “lazy and fat” and enjoying rather too much “golf on a Friday afternoon”, much to the displeasure of numerous business leaders and trade bodies. 

On Monday former Prime Minister David Cameron offered his second resignation of the year, standing down as MP for Whitney, stating he did not want to be “a big distraction” for the new PM.

The Opposition

The Labour Leadership contest continues.

Over the weekend, challenger Owen Jones raised the prospect of a Labour Government under his leadership reapplying to join the EU.

By contrast, on Thursday Jeremy Corbyn called the referendum result a response to “the failure of an entire economic model”.

The two also clashed in a televised debate on Sky on Wednesday evening.

The acrimonious nature of this leadership race was again brought to the fore on Thursday when accusations of bullying once again surfaced.  

The race will finally come to an end at a Labour Leadership Conference on the 24th September.

Also in the News

On Wednesday Jean -Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, delivered his annual “state of the union” address to a mixed reception. He restated that Brexit will not be the end of the EU, decried the rise in reported acts of racism in the UK and emphasised his vision for an EU military headquarters and a “youth wing”.

On Thursday, former European Council President Herman Van Rompuy waded in, saying Britain already had “not many friends” in Europe pre-referendum and that he doubts Brexit talks will formally begin until the end of 2017.

This Week at the Chambers

We like to keep busy at the Chambers. One Tuesday, we issued our response to the Consumer Price Index and Producer Price Index statistical releases (click here) using the opportunity to restate our key messages for our post-referendum Government.

On Wednesday we issued our response to the ONS Employment figures (click here) which showed a slight rise in both employment and unemployment in the region (if you’re wondering how this is possible, there’s a third category, “inactivity”, which saw a decline).

Our CEO, Paul Faulkner, also met with the Rt. Hon. Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Robin Walker MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Department for Exiting the European Union at a meeting of Chamber CEOs convened by the British Chambers of Commerce.

On Thursday we held a particularly productive Chamber Council meeting, part of which focused on discussing and refining our post-referendum activity (did you know? There are currently elections taking place for two vacancies onto Chamber Council - find out more and vote here and view the candidates’ supporting statements here).

We also delivered a consultation session on the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership’s Strategic Economic Plan in partnership with the CBI, FSB and IOD.

And we’ve got a busy schedule coming up. Next week our CEO will be taking part in the first Midlands Engine trade mission. On the 7th October we’re holding a briefing session with the Bank of England’s regional agent Graeme Chaplin (click here) and on the 11th we’re launching our Q3 Quarterly Business Report (click here) . We’ve also got a wide range of growth seminars, networking events and export support workshops on offer - take a look here.