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Politics: 24th February

GBCC

The week began with Theresa May sitting on the steps of the throne in the House of Lords as peers began to debate the bill to start the process of leaving the EU. The debate continued into the next day with peers at opposite ends of the political spectrum voicing their concerns over the amendments suggested and the manner in which the Government intended to execute the process. Most notably, former Cabinet Secretary, Lord Butler felt that members of the public should get a vote on the final Brexit deal, a sentiment echoed by his counterparts in the House of Commons such as Chris Leslie and Nick Clegg.

On Wednesday former British Ambassador, Sir Ivan Rodgers gave evidence before the Commons Brexit Select Committee in which he warned that Brexit talks could get “bitter, gory and twisted.” Sir Ivan also claimed a “hardball” EU would look to avoid a trade deal which recognised special terms for different sectors of the UK economy as suggested by the Prime Minister.

Thursday began with the news that net migration to Britain had fallen by almost fifty thousand in 2016, which include the three month period which followed the EU referendum. Official figures suggested the number had dropped to 273,000, the first substantial decrease for almost five years.

The day ended with voters going to the polls in the constituencies of Copeland and Stoke Central as citizens braved the bad weather to cast their vote in parliamentary by-elections with the topic of Brexit central to the candidates’ policy programmes. Friday saw Labour candidate Gareth Snell defeat UKIP leader Paul Nuttall to secure the seat in Stoke, however, the Tories scored a shock victory as Trudy Harrison won the seat which has been held by Labour since the 1930s.

Economy

Monday saw the Government hit with a raft of criticism as it announced changes to the business rate tax system for the first time in seven years. Ministers such as Sajid Javid suggested that almost 75% of business rates would go down or stay the same, however, certain campaign groups claimed that certain retailers could face rises of up to 400%. The Prime Minister seemed to heed these concerns as she announced in PMQ’s that business most affected by the changes would receive “appropriate relief”. For more on the Chambers position on business rates, click here.

Tuesday saw the Bank of England reveal that it would be unlikely to be accurately predict the next financial crisis. Monetary Policy Committee member Gertjan Vlieghe was appearing before the Treasury Select Committee to respond to criticisms that the Bank had made a number of forecasting errors in the run to the EU referendum. A former city economist, Mr Vlieghe, said the economic models the Bank utilise would struggle to predict a recession, let alone a seismic crash similar to the one that transpired in 2008. 

Here at the GBCC

This week the Chamber marked the issuance of Royal Assent for Phase 1 for HS2, click here to find out more. The GBCC were also supporting Birmingham Children’s Hospital in the opening of the new Magnolia House, funded by fellow Patron Wesleyan (read more here) and the announcement that BCH has become the first of its kind to be rated "outstanding" by healthcare inspectors in England (read more here). This week we reached the end stages for fieldwork for our latest Quarterly Economic Survey. The survey takes 3 minutes to complete and one lucky respondent will win a dinner for two at Gusto Restaurant. Click here to fill in the survey.

This week is the penultimate week of GBCC’s Growth Through People campaign. The campaign provides businesses with a menu of free activity aimed at helping them to more efficiently and effectively manage their workforce. To see our full campaign calendar please click here.

Finally, the GBCC Spring Expo is on the horizon. The event is ideal for networking and professional development via a range of expert led seminars. Our 2016 Autumn Expo attracted over 800 delegates and exhibitors for a day of doing business. If you would like to find out more or register to attend click here.