The start of the year saw an announcement which caused ripples across the political spectrum, as Sir Ivan Rodgers handed in his notice as UK Ambassador to the EU. Despite having originally planned to retire in November, Mr Rodgers brought an early end to his tenure as Britain’s top civil servant in Brexit negotiations. Having been appointed by former PM David Cameron, Sir Ivan had hit the headlines prior to Christmas when a memo of his was leaked which suggested negotiating a trade deal with the EU could take up 10 years and still not be successful. A number of Labour Frontbenchers were quick to bemoan the news and the significant EU expertise that the Government would lose in light of Sir Ivan stepping down.
The next day saw a release of Sir Ivan Rodgers resignation letter; despite the usual valedictory messages, Sir Ivan also instructed his former team members to “never be afraid to speak the truth to those in power” – seen by many as a thinly veiled attack on the Government’s approach to the negotiations. Many vociferous Leave campaigners called for Sir Ivan to be replaced by a pro-Brexit diplomat and many across the spectrum welcomed the news that Sir Tim Barrow had been appointed as the latest UK Ambassador to the EU. Tasked with negotiating the best deal possible for the country, a number of senior MPs and leading diplomats welcomed Sir Tim’s experience particularly in leading on negotiations with Russia and having the pre-requisite tough personality required to undertake such an arduous and technical process.
The start of 2017 revealed that the UK service sector expanded at its quickest pace in December 2016, the highest rise since July 2015. The PMI Index rose to 56.2 in December, up from 55.2 in November. Markit Chief Chris Williamson cited the results as reflecting the underlying strength of the UK economy in light of the EU referendum result.
The week ended with the Bank of England’s Chief Executive, Andrew Haldane, admitting that the Bank had made a number of forecasting errors which had cast severe doubt on its ability to maintain credibility amongst the public. Having predicted a dramatic slowdown in the growth of the UK economy if the nation decided to leave the EU, Mr Haldane suggested that economists had suffered a “Michael Fish” moment – a reference to the former weather forecaster incorrectly predicting that Britain would be free from a hurricane attack – a forecast which turned out to be painfully wrong.
The latest GBCC Quarterly Business Report, Q4 2016, sponsored by chamber Patron Birmingham City University, will be launched on the 19th January. After a review of the latest GBCC Quarterly Business Report results, this event will explore where jobs are being created: the key growth sectors, industries and roles as well as what it is like to lead an expanding business in Greater Birmingham. Ahead of the launch event click here for early access to the report which showed a strong, positive sentiment in the region across a number of indicators.
The GBCC Annual Dinner and Awards Night will be taking place on Thursday 30th March. The 2017 Dinner will take place at the ICC and is hosted by Chamber Patron the NEC Group. Furthermore, the Dinner is set to attract up to 1,000 guests and the evening will start with a networking drinks reception. We also encourage you to enter the Business Awards as they offer your company a fabulous opportunity to showcase the achievements of your business to the wider region. To find out more about the event, click here.
As it’s the first blogpost of the year, we wish you all a Happy New Year!