This week was marked by three days of intense debate in the House of Commons around the specific terms of the Government’s White Paper on Britain’s exit from the EU.
Highlights included the Labour Party’s attempts to introduce an amendment which would have prevented ministers striking a Brexit agreement until it was passed by MPs and the SNP’s Patrick Grady spending 58 minutes discussing the various amendments forwarded by his party including an attempt to make the Government publish an assessment on the potential risks the UK economy would suffer as a result of leaving the EU. The Government managed to see off both requests.
Wednesday saw the EU Notification of Withdrawal Bill go through its third Commons reading. Eight further amendments were proposed, however the Government managed to successfully block all of them. On the same day, Clive Lewis became the fourth Labour frontbencher to resign from the Shadow Cabinet to vote against Article 50 and rebel against a three line whip imposed by Jeremy Corbyn.
The Leader of the Labour Party appeared on BBC Breakfast the next day to proclaim that Mr Lewis’s departure from his top team was “not a disaster”. On an eventful day for the leader of the Opposition, Mr Corbyn was lambasted by a number of commentators for releasing a tweet declaring “the real fight starts now” following the passage of the Bill through Parliament.
On Tuesday, the Institute for Fiscal Studies published a report which claimed austerity would continue into the next decade and tax would rise as a share of the UK’s income to a level not seen since the mid-1980s; much of this was attributed to a combination of higher income derived from taxes and relatively low economic growth.
Wednesday saw the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England pay a visit to the West Midlands to discuss investment problems facing businesses across the region. Speaking at an event hosted by the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, Sir John Cunliffe warned against relaxing banking regulation, citing the potential impact it could have on the global economy. This followed the announcement that President Trump was considering an overhaul of Dodd Frank legislation to loosen the regulatory framework surrounding US Investment Banks.
The week ended with a senior German banking regulator claiming that London would be likely to lose its role as “the gateway to Europe” for vital financial services.
Tinged with slightly threatening overtones, Dr Andreas Dombret, Executive Board Member for the German Central Bank, the Bundesbank, warned that our capital city would not be able to make up for the loss of pass porting rights by replicating the Singapore model of slashing corporate taxes to attract overseas business.
However, it wasn’t all bad news as The Office for National Statistics (ONS) released data which showed the UK’s trade deficit had narrowed in December, much of this was predicated on a £1.1 billion increase in export of goods to non-EU countries.
Here at the GBCC
On Monday we launched the fieldwork for our Quarterly Economic Survey. We use the data from this survey to produce a quarterly report that 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. 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 also saw the start of the GBCC’s Growth Through People campaign. The series of events 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. We will be working with partners to deliver a wide range of engaging, free events that will look at these themes from a number of different angles. To see our full campaign calendar please click here.
On Thursday, we held our latest Patrons Lunch with special guest speaker Major General Crackett CB TD VR sharing insight into the Army Reservists and the positive contribution they make to the wider economy.