We’ve battled through the snowstorms to bring you this week’s Brexit blog post and it’s been a busy week as 2017 shifts into gear…
This week has seen the FTSE 100 perform strongly. It closed on Thursday at a record level for the 11th day in a row; the first time ever that it has managed this feat. The day was nicknames ‘Super Thursday’ because of the number of retail updates that were released. Meanwhile, the FTSE 250’s performance this week was mixed with the index closing on Thursday near to where started on Monday.
Despite the pound enjoying gains against the dollar mid-week following a bizarre press conference performance from US President-elect Donald Trump, the pound’s value slumped against both the dollar and the euro on Thursday. The main contributing factor to this was an announcement from Theresa May that she would deliver an important Brexit speech next Tuesday. The pound closed low on Thursday at $1.22 and €1.14.
The ONS released the trade figures for November 2016 this week with the UK’s trade deficit in goods and services widening by £2.6 billion on the previous month. This reflects a £3.3billion increase in imports that was offset by a £0.7billion increase in exports.
It emerged this week that Cabinet ministers expect to lose the landmark Supreme Court legal battle over Brexit with a ruling set to be announced this month. Ministers are understood to have prepared more than one possible bill so that they are ready to adjust legislation based upon the content of the Supreme Court’s ruling. It was also reported that Government has asked for early sight of the judgement to allow for contingency planning.
There was Brexit confusion in Government on Wednesday as Immigration Minister, Robert Goodwill, suggested that UK businesses could be charged to hire skilled workers from the EU after Brexit – similar to the £1,000 ‘skills charge’ that companies will need to pay when recruiting workers from outside the EU that Government is introducing in April. Downing Street was quick to distance itself from the suggestion.
On Thursday it was announced that further legal challenges to a hard Brexit were being progressed. Courts in Ireland are to hear a crowdfunded effort to refer an appeal to the EU’s highest tribunal about whether Brexit is reversible. Meanwhile, the high court in London will hear a claim that seeks to argue that the UK should remain in the European Economic Area (EEA) following Brexit.
Thursday also saw Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, concede that Brexit was no longer the greatest short-term risk to the UK economy. In an appearance before MPs, Mr Carney also signalled that the Bank of England was likely to improve next month’s economic forecast.
Across the pond, President Obama delivered the final speech before the end of his Presidential term on Friday 20th January. He looked back on the achievements and frustrations of his presidency and paid tribute to his family.
President-elect Donald Trump gave his first press conference for 6 months on Wednesday. In a strange session Mr Trump hit out at a number of mainstream journalists and provided more detail on his plans to replace Obamacare, build a wall between the USA and Mexico, and his nomination for the US Supreme Court vacancy. On Monday, Donald Trump’s team met with Boris Johnson and indicated that post-Brexit Britain would be ‘front of the line’ for trade negotiations. If you’re interested in what the inauguration of Donald Trump means for businesses then you’ll be able to hear from experts at our next British American Business Council Speaker Breakfast on Wednesday 25th January.
This Week at the Chambers
On Thursday we held the first meeting of the GBCC Brexit Advisory Group. The group involves a range of senior stakeholders from GBCC partner organisations and will provide guidance for the GBCC’s Brexit policy activity.
Earlier today, Raj Kandola, Senior Policy & Patron Adviser attended the Birmingham City Council 2017 Budget Consultation. The Council arranged the session to brief business leaders on their budget plans and receive feedback from a wide range of stakeholders. We would encourage you to read the Council’s Budget and share your thoughts with them.
We’ve also been gearing up for the launch of our Quarterly Business Report for Q4 2016. The report offers an up to date snapshot of the performance of the Greater Birmingham business community and is our flagship economic publication. It is the most comprehensive regular report of its kind in the city-region. We will be launching the report at an event hosted by QBR sponsors Birmingham City University on Thursday 19th January. Please click here for more information and to book your place.
This week we’ve been putting the final touches to the GBCC’s Growth Through People campaign which we will be formally announcing on Monday. The campaign will share tools, techniques, and information that will help business leaders to more effectively manage their workforce and unlock growth and productivity as a result. Keep an eye on your inbox on Monday for full details.