Brexit Weekly: 5 Things

People really want a deal now

Pressure on both UK decision makers and EU legislators to reach a deal is made by both politicians and industry stakeholders. On the EU side, most recently, it came from the Portuguese Government, the Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva who made it clear in a meeting with business leaders that a no-deal would be bad for the economy of the country, and that the government is working to ensure a minimal Brexit impact. For Portugal, the UK is the largest market for service exports and 4th largest for goods.

In Madrid, the Industry and Commerce Minister Reyes Maroto told businesses to get ready for any outcome, given the fact that at the moment only one third of the companies have put in place contingency plans.

On the UK side, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) released the latest business confidence survey which reveals that over a third (38%) of food and drink manufacturers surveyed are reporting an increase in costs as a result of stockpiling ahead of a possible ‘no-deal’ Brexit, being worried of the ‘no deal’ scenario.

Brexit budgeting

Fiscal Phil went Labour-lite in his Autumn Budget this week, with rumours that he was warned not to continue with funding cuts to reduce the deficit when Labour will likely come in, spend it all and, like the parent who gives you sweets, become the favourite party.In terms of Brexit, Hammond freed up an extra £500 million for departments to make no-deal preparations which brings total spending on departmental preparation for what Government continually assures us is not going to happen to £3.75 billion. Hammond also announced that in the event of no deal, there would be a new emergency budget, which would probably come in the form of an upgraded Spring Statement. So, to calm the nerves of stability-seeking capital, no deal now means new budget. And, as ever Brexit means…

Uncertain status

In keeping with the Government’s hostile environment for immigrants without a legal right to be in the UK, EU nationals are in an increasingly precarious position as we approach B-Day without a deal. Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said that employers will need to impose “rigorous checks” on the immigration statuses of their employees. The Home Office has quickly dispelled this saying that “Employers will not be expected to differentiate between resident EU citizens and those arriving after exit.” This will provide little comfort to the EU nationals reportedly already being asked by uncertain employers whether they have immigration papers that don’t yet exist due to lack of need. It isn’t just capital that seeks stability.

Accounting for Banks

Popular opinion, including my own, that Leave.EU campaign chief and millionaire Arron Banks is a Bad Man has been enforced further this week as the National Crime Agency launched an investigation into the alleged offences committed during the 2016 referendum. The Electoral Commission referred the case over after its own investigations raised questions as to whether Banks was the “true source” of £8 million in funding to the campaign and suggested that the money might have come “from impermissible sources” which include the Isle of Man and Russia. But I grant you, financial foul play by Banks isn’t really news though.

What is pretty damning news, however, is the Daily Mail’s reveal that when Home Secretary, now-Prime Minister Theresa May declined a request by security services to investigate Banks because it would be “simply too explosive in the run up to the referendum.” This means that criminal activity was so evident even at the time that British law enforcement wanted to intervene but were prevented from doing so by Government. Banks for one has certainly taken back control.

Raab’s aloofness steals the show

Brexit Secretary Dominic Raaab dropped in on Northern Ireland this week, unannounced to public representatives and the local people. In a snub that is dubbed by some as typical Tory behaviour, Raaab was accused of “running away” from answering the hard but important questions about the impact of Brexit on the lives of the Northern Irish, and likened to “a thief in the night.”

In a classic case of parents divorcing, one person is quoted by the Daily Telegraph highlighting that Raab’s EU counterpart, Michel Barnier, had been over and had engaged with the local people in the area arguably most affected by Brexit. I think many in Northern Ireland have chosen their favourite parent.