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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Not only the Weather getting turbulent!

JCB leaves CBI 'over Brexit stance'.

The construction firm JCB has left the business lobby group, the CBI, reportedly because of its anti-Brexit stance. A JCB spokesperson confirmed that the company had ended its membership of the CBI, but did not give reasons why. Sky news had earlier reported that it was due to the group's response to the referendum outcome JCB's chairman, Lord Bamford, was a prominent supporter of the Brexit campaign. During the campaign he said: "The UK is the world's fifth largest trading nation. We therefore have little to fear from leaving the EU." He also wrote to his 6,500 UK employees to explain why he favoured a vote to leave the European Union, saying he was "very confident that we can stand on our own two feet". The CBI, on the other hand, warned that a UK exit from the EU would cause a "serious economic shock", potentially costing the country £100bn and nearly one million jobs. A CBI spokesman said: "It's always a shame to see any member leave the CBI, but we recognise that businesses have competing priorities and we respect that."

Government 'planned to publish Brexit Green Paper'.

The government planned to publish a broad outline of its Brexit negotiation aims, sources have told the BBC. A "Green Paper" document was a "serious idea" but was dropped, sources told BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg. Downing Street denied the publication of a Green Paper was ever part of its plan. Ministers are facing pressure to set out what they want to achieve from the talks with the EU before formally triggering Brexit by the end of March. Prime Minister Theresa May has repeatedly refused to give a "running commentary" on the talks. But sources told the BBC the government had planned to produce a Green Paper - a consultation document setting out policy proposals - in the Autumn. "We were told there would be one in October," one source said, adding that the financial sector had been asked to provide "a data dump and a shopping list" by the end of September in order to facilitate the process. A separate source said they had been briefed by government officials that the Green Paper "was expected late September", while another added: "It's gone away - the only thing they agree on is so high level that there would only be one page...I'm not sure that there is a coherent plan." But a Downing Street source said the claims were "tosh".

Brexit: No vote on talks but MPs may have say on EU deal.

MPs will not get to vote on how Brexit negotiations are handled but could still be asked to approve the "final" deal, a government source has said. Several senior politicians, including ex-Labour leader Ed Miliband, have demanded Parliament gives its verdict on the UK's departure from the EU. But Brexit Secretary David Davis told MPs there was a difference between "accountability and micro-management". The UK's exit from the EU is expected to happen by summer 2019. Theresa May is visiting Denmark and the Netherlands for Brexit-related talks as MPs debate the issue in the Commons. The Leave campaign won a majority in June's referendum, with the prime minister announcing last week that the government would trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty - beginning formal negotiations between the UK and EU - by the end of March next year. The process will take up to two years, involving complex debates about issues such as immigration and access to the European single market.

Retailers warn government of Brexit price rises.

Failure to strike a good Brexit deal in 2019 will push up prices in the shops, The British Retail Consortium has warned. The trade body warned reverting to World Trade Organization (WTO) rules could see tariffs on clothes of up to 16% and on meat of up to 27%. "Years of deflation" would mean retailers would have to pass these import costs on to consumers, it said. It follows a similar warning from the CBI last week. Other items singled out by the BRC include Chilean wine, where the BRC says tariffs would rise by 14%. The BRC points out that as well as higher prices, some products, such as New Zealand lamb, are subject to EU import quotas, so could become cheaper outside the EU. But it stresses that overall prices would rise and shopkeepers would struggle to absorb those higher prices. The fall in the value of the pound since the referendum, a trend that accelerated last week to leave the pound at its lowest against the dollar for 31 years and at five-year lows against the euro, already means any goods brought in from outside the UK will cost more. The BRC argues that prices have been squeezed so low that profit margins are too small to be eroded further.

Pound steadies after recent slump.

The pound has recovered some of its recent losses, with analysts attributing the gains to the promise of a Commons debate on the Brexit process. The pound closed 0.6% higher on Wednesday at $1.22, but down from its best levels for the day. Against the euro, the pound rose nearly 1% to close at €1.11. Sterling has been sliding since Prime Minister Theresa May announced on 2 October that the formal Brexit process would start by the end of March 2017. Traders have been selling the pound, fearing the impact of leaving the single market. According to figures from the Bank of England, on Tuesday the pound fell to its lowest level in history on a trade-weighted basis. The trade-weighted index measures the pound against a basket of currencies, adjusted to reflect the importance of nations as trading partners. MPs have been demanding to scrutinise the eventual plan to leave the European Union before it is finally agreed, and on Wednesday the government agreed there should be a "full and transparent debate". But it added that the process should not "undermine" the government's negotiating position.

Brexit case 'of fundamental constitutional importance'.

The need for Parliament to give its approval before the Brexit process starts is of huge "constitutional importance", the High Court has heard. QC Lord Pannick said the case "raises an issue... concerning the limits of the power of the executive". The High Court is considering whether ministers can invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the trigger for formal talks, without MPs passing a new law. But the government said the EU would not be rejoined via "the back door". Ministers argue they are entitled to act under ancient powers of Royal Prerogative. Investment manager Gina Miller is among those contesting the government's authority to proceed without recourse to Parliament - arguing the principle of parliamentary sovereignty underpins the constitution and the rule of law in the country. Her legal team, headed by constitutional lawyer and cross-bench peer Lord Pannick, is arguing that invoking Article 50 will threaten the rights of individuals enshrined in the 1972 European Communities Act - which paved the way for the UK to join the European Economic Community. Only Parliament, they argue, can remove or reduce rights granted under law and Article 50 must have the consent of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

All details above from BBC News website.

[Apart from the increasingly rabid calls for a swift exit from the EU (presumably to stop people actually reflecting on the consequences and pausing to actually THINK rather than hope that things will (eventually) turn out for the best), it’s all rather quiet here in pre-economic catastrophe land. I guess that things will heat up again once the Supreme Court comes back with its decision – I presume that the Government will lose its appeal but you never can tell if the ‘fix’ is in or not – and Parliament returns after their Christmas break. Once thing that I can say for certain is that 2017 is going to be a VERY interesting year all round!]

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