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Saturday, January 14, 2017

When things come out of the Woodwork……

Boris Johnson's previously unpublished 'pro-EU' column revealed.

Boris Johnson said the UK remaining in the EU would be a "boon for the world and for Europe", a previously unpublished newspaper column reveals. He wrote the column in February, along with a pro-Brexit article that was later published in the Telegraph. Mr Johnson subsequently became a leading figure in the campaign to leave the European Union. The Sunday Times has published the pro-Remain column, which it says Mr Johnson wrote to clarify his thoughts. In it he warned that Brexit could lead to an economic shock, Scottish independence and Russian aggression. The foreign secretary had previously admitted to writing the piece but its contents had not been known. The Sunday Times says he first wrote an article arguing the case to leave the EU, then wrote the pro-Remain piece "as a way of clarifying his thoughts", before composing a final article for publication backing Brexit. But in the pro-EU article, revealed in a new book by Sunday Times political editor Tim Shipman, All Out War, he supported membership of the free trade zone. "This is a market on our doorstep, ready for further exploitation by British firms," Mr Johnson wrote. "The membership fee seems rather small for all that access. Why are we so determined to turn our back on it?"

Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland may seek separate EU trade deal.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she believes a deal could be reached which would allow Scotland to retain access to the European single market. Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show, she said the UK leaving the EU need not entail Scotland being excluded from a separate trade arrangement. "I think that is possible," she said. The first minister said her government was looking at the detail of how that could happen, adding: "We will publish proposals over the next few weeks."

UK economy 'faces prolonged weakness', Item Club report says.

Britain's economy faces a "prolonged period" of weaker growth as consumer spending slows and business curbs investment, according to a report. Although the EY Item Club think tank predicts the economy will grow 1.9% this year, it expects that performance to fizzle out as inflation rises. The economy's stability since June's Brexit vote was "deceptive", EY said. Meanwhile, a senior Bank of England official told the BBC that inflation may surpass its 2% target. The Bank's deputy governor Ben Broadbent told Radio 5 live that sterling's weakness would fuel inflation, but that controlling prices with tighter monetary policy could hit growth and jobs. The dilemma facing policymakers was underlined in the Item Club report. It expects inflation to jump to 2.6% next year before easing back to 1.8% in 2018. That will cause growth in consumer spending to slow from an expected 2.5% this year to 0.5% in 2017 and 0.9% the year after, the report said. Business investment is also forecast to fall due to uncertainty surrounding Britain's future trading relationship with the EU, dropping 1.5% this year and more than 2% in 2017. EY predicts that the impact of weaker consumer spending and falling investment will cause UK GDP growth to drop sharply to 0.8% next year, before expanding to 1.4% in 2018.

MPs' consent 'not needed for Article 50 to trigger Brexit'.

Consent from Parliament is "not required" for Theresa May to go ahead with getting Brexit under way, the High Court has heard. Attorney General Jeremy Wright said it was a "proper and well established" principle that governments use the royal prerogative in such cases. But those bringing the case argue that it is vital MPs and peers get a say. Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which starts the Brexit process, is to be triggered by the end of next March. Campaigners say the prime minister lacks the power to do this without the prior authorisation of Parliament. But, arguing the government's case, Mr Wright said Article 50 was available to "to give effect to the will of the people", as expressed in June's referendum, in which a majority of voters backed Brexit. The use of the royal prerogative - powers historically held by the Crown but these days passed on to ministers - was "wholly within the expectation of Parliament", he said. Parliament had also passed an act allowing the referendum to take place, he added.

Commons vote to ratify Brexit deal likely, says No 10.

Downing Street has said it is "very likely" MPs will be able to vote on the final Brexit agreement reached between the UK and the European Union. Number 10 confirmed the comment by a government lawyer in the High Court represented the "government's view". The vote would take place after negotiations have taken place and with Brexit already triggered using Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Campaigners have been calling for a vote before Article 50 is triggered. Open Britain, formerly the Remain campaign, said the government's comments were an "encouraging sign" but renewed calls for a debate and vote earlier in the process, before Article 50 begins two years of formal negotiations. The UK is expected to leave the European Union in 2019. Prime Minister Theresa May opposes a vote before Article 50, saying those calling for one are "trying to subvert" the outcome of June's referendum. The issue is currently the subject of a landmark legal challenge, with the government defending what it says is its right to invoke Article 50 without Parliamentary approval.

UK inflation at 1% as price of clothes and fuel rises.

Rising prices for clothes, hotel rooms and petrol have led to the highest rate of inflation in nearly two years, official figures show. Inflation rose to 1.0% in September, up from 0.6% in August, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. Clothing saw its biggest price rise since 2010 and fuel, which was falling a year ago, was also more expensive. However, the ONS said there was "no explicit evidence" the weaker pound was the reason for higher prices. September's inflation figure has traditionally been crucial because it decided what rate benefits would increase by in the following year. However, with the government having frozen many benefits and tax credits until 2020, many families will no longer see them keep up with rising prices. Rising prices will "undoubtedly be tough on those with low incomes," said Ben Brettell, senior economist at Hargreaves Lansdown. "It's also not good news for savers who are losing money in real terms," he added. The jump in Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation from 0.6% to 1.0% in September was the biggest month-on-month increase since June 2014. The 1% rate is the highest since November 2014. However, ONS head of inflation Mike Prestwood said it was "low by historic standards".

All details above from BBC News website.

[With the Supreme Court decision due soon we’re still being regaled with mixed messages from the Government despite rather strenuous denials that they are ‘muddled’ in their thinking. We’re told it’ll be a hard Brexit, then a soft one, we’re told that we can cherry pick certain aspects of membership and ditch others, then we’re told its all or nothing, we’re told that we need a phased transition and then we’re told out is out, then we’re told that obligations mean we’ll be paying into the EU years after we actually leave. Messy? You haven’t seen anything yet!]

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