Brexit: Lords force Theresa May to give MPs single market vote

Brexit strategy for May and Corbyn both ‘blown apart’ in the past 24 hours

The House of Lords
The House of Lords
(Image credit: Victoria Jones/Pool/Getty Images)

Brexit: Britain in talks to join Pacific trade group

4 January

Britain is exploring the possibility of joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade bloc after Brexit.

According to the Financial Times, the Government has held informal discussions with the group about the UK becoming a member after leaving the EU in March next year.

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Trade minister Greg Hands told the FT there was no geographical restriction on Britain joining trade groups on the other side of the world.

“Nothing is excluded in all of this,” he said. “With these kind of plurilateral relationships, there doesn’t have to be any geographical restriction.”

Britain would be the first member of the trade group - whose 11 members include Australia, Mexico, Japan and Canada - not to border the Pacific Ocean or the South China Sea.

The Guardian says: “Liam Fox’s Department for International Trade is believed to be developing the proposals to join the group which is regrouping after it lost the United States, its largest member, when President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement last year.”

However, with combined spending from the 11 remaining TPP countries making up less than 8% of the UK’s total export market, compared with 11% from Germany alone, opposition politicians have say the idea smacks of desperation.

Former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said: “These people want us to leave a market on our doorstep and join a different, smaller one on the other side of the world. It’s all pie in the sky thinking.”

Speaking to the BBC, Aaron Connelly, research fellow at the Lowy Institute for International Policy, said if the UK did join, it risked holding “little leverage” in talks. Given the urgency to seal a deal, Britain would be a “price taker” on the terms of the pact, particularly in areas like pharmaceuticals, state-owned enterprises, labour and the environment, he added.

Brexit: Frankfurt plans 20 high-rise towers to house relocating workers

30 November

Authorities in Frankfurt are planning 20 new residential high-rises in anticipation of a Brexit-related influx of workers - including at least 8,000 bank employees relocating from London.

Five skyscrapers are under construction in Frankfurt, Germany’s financial capital, and another 15 are planned by 2022, Bloomberg says, citing a study by consulting firm Bulwiengesa.

“The expected influx of Brexit newcomers will help to absorb the volume of high-rise housing,” Bulwiengesa's branch manager in the city, Sven Carstensen, told Bloomberg.

Helaba bank's chief economist, Gertrud Traud, said in a research paper just over a month ago that at least 15 UK-based banks looking to relocate jobs to Europe post-Brexit had declared Frankfurt to be their preferred location.

“With talks about Brexit largely deadlocked, banks have begun putting their contingency plans into action,” American Banker says.

According to a report by the website earlier this month, Goldman Sachs has signed a lease for Frankfurt offices that it will occupy from 2019, JPMorgan Chase is near to closing a similar deal, and Citigroup and Deutsche Bank are scouting the market.

Meanwhile, Savills says that the total amount of space being leased in Frankfurt is on track to reach a ten-year high.

More than half of EU nationals working in investment management in the UK are not confident they will remain after Brexit, according to a CFA Society UK report, says Investment Week.

Net migration to Britain - the difference between the number of people coming to the UK and the number leaving - fell by nearly a third to 230,000 in the year to June 2017, the BBC says.

About 572,000 people arrived in the UK, while 342,000 left. The 106,000 fall on the previous year's net migration figure was the largest annual decrease ever recorded, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Brexit: British banks to lose crucial ‘passporting�� rights

10 November

British banks will lose passporting rights post-Brexit that allow them to sell £9bn a year in services to the European Union, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said in a wide-ranging speech today that also casts doubt on a future UK-EU trade deal.

Barnier used his clearest language yet to confirm that UK-based banks will lose access to the single market after March 2019 as a “legal consequence” of Brexit, Bloomberg says.

Barnier’s pronouncement is bad news for the City, where more than 5,400 UK firms rely on passporting rights to sell services to a market of 500 million EU consumers, The Independent says.

Speaking at a Centre for European Reform conference in Brussels, Barnier also suggested that national parliaments within the EU might block a Brexit trade deal in the future if UK plans diverge too far from the existing standards of regulation on issues like food safety, workplace protection and the environment.

Barnier says Britain needs to decide whether it wants to stay close to the European model or gradually move away from it.

“The UK’s reply to these questions will be very important, and even decisive, because it will shape the discussion on our future relationship,” he said, in comments interpreted by the UK media as a veiled threat to a future trade deal.

The Sun calls it “Brexit blackmail” but CNBC notes that Barnier’s preference is for an “ambitious” UK-EU trade agreement.

Meanwhile, Theresa May and her “war Cabinet” were behind closed doors today discussing financial arrangements for leaving the bloc, which could see the UK offer as much as £40bn in order to settle its accounts with the EU and break the stalemate that has prevented trade talks from starting.

While making the rounds of the Sunday talk shows, Chancellor Philip Hammond said the UK would present an offer in the hope of moving talks along but he wouldn’t be drawn on the amount.

Brexit: Northern economy ‘will be hit twice as hard’10 November

The north of England will suffer nearly twice the Brexit effect of London, according to a new report by IPPR North.

The respected think tank found that northern regions are far more dependent on trade with EU than the capital. About 10.2% of the North’s GDP is dependent on the EU, compared with 7.2% for inner London.

The report also suggests many northern regions are 50 to 60% more dependent on EU markets for their prosperity than the South.

The forecasts form part of the IPPR’s annual assessment of the regional economy and show how Brexit will have a major impact in areas that are already stagnating. Cumbria is expected to be the hardest hit, followed by north Lincolnshire.

Many areas in the North voted to leave the EU in the referendum a year ago, believing economic recovery since the financial crisis has been too centred on the South.

The findings will “prove worrying” for the upper half of the country, says The Guardian, especially after decades of post-industrial decline and years of austerity.

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