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I have a burning need to know stuff and I love asking awkward questions.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Meanwhile in Cloud Cuckoo Land….

Robot tractors 'could help solve post-Brexit farm worker shortage'.

Driverless vehicles could help farmers avoid labour shortages after Brexit, an expert in agricultural technology has said. Professor Simon Blackmore said that the machines could "replace significant numbers" of seasonal workers. He said farmers "don't need to have a PhD" to work with the "highly automated" robots. His comments came after an NFU survey found 66% of growers expected fewer workers to be available by 2018. Prof Blackmore, head of engineering at Harper Adams University, told the House of Lords' Science and Technology Select Committee that new technology had the potential to be "very disruptive" to the agriculture industry. Prof Blackmore said: "Farmers dealing with high value crops right now are using seasonal labour, and with the advent of Brexit and possible limitations on seasonal labour, a lot of the farmers I'm speaking to are very, very nervous. There is this opportunity... to be able to replace significant numbers of seasonal workers with highly automated machines." Prof Blackmore added that technological changes would mean farmers would have to learn new skills, saying: "We do need to up-skill the current tractor drivers to become robot operators."

Inflation 'set to soar to 4% by late 2017'.

UK inflation will quadruple to about 4% in the second half of next year and cut disposable income, a leading think tank has forecast. The rise in prices will "accelerate rapidly" during 2017 as the fall in sterling is passed on to consumers, according to the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR). The revised figure is sharply higher than the 3% it forecast in August. The economy also faces "significant risks" that could restrict growth. "Households have really got a choice. Do they spend less or do they start saving less?" Dr Angus Armstrong, director of macroeconomics at NIESR, told the BBC's Today programme. He said given the savings ratio was at its lowest level since 2008, "the most likely scenario is that they spend much less, hence the weaker [growth] forecast for next year." Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rose to 1% in September, up from 0.6% in August, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said last month. That was the highest rate for nearly two years as the cost of clothes, petrol and hotel rooms increased.

Pound jumps in wake of Brexit ruling.

Sterling has risen sharply following the High Court ruling on Article 50, while the FTSE 100 has fallen back. The court ruling has "made triggering Brexit a lot trickier and has given sterling a massive shot in the arm", said Neil Wilson at ETX Capital. At the close of London trade, the pound was up 1.1% at $1.2438, but the FTSE 100 fell 0.8% to 6,790.5 points. Sterling was also bolstered after the Bank of England predicted higher growth for this year and 2017. The Bank left interest rates on hold at 0.25% as expected, but also sharply raised its inflation forecast for next year. The pound climbed 1.1% against the euro to €1.1214. Many traders hope that the court ruling will at the least delay the process of leaving the EU or reduce the government's ability to push through a "hard Brexit" that would mean leaving the single market. Downing Street said it was disappointed at the decision and would appeal, with the case expected to be heard by the Supreme Court before the end of the year.

Brexit: Ministers vow to fight Article 50 court ruling.

The government has said it will fight a High Court ruling that could frustrate its timetable for Brexit, claiming that voters want them to "get on with it". Three judges ruled that Parliament, not the government alone, can trigger the formal process of leaving the EU. Brexit Secretary David Davis said 17.4 million Leave voters had given the government "the biggest mandate in history" to leave the EU. The Supreme Court is expected to hear the government's appeal next month. In the landmark ruling, the High Court judges said the government could not trigger the Article 50 process of formally leaving the European Union alone - they must have the approval of Parliament. BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg described the ruling as a "massive obstacle" for Prime Minister Theresa May, who says she wants to trigger Article 50 by the end of March. If the government loses in the Supreme Court, it will have to publish some form of new law for MPs - and the House of Lords - to vote on. MPs could then push to set the terms for negotiating withdrawal. The prime minister's spokeswoman said she would be calling President of the EU Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, to say she intended to stick to her March 2017 deadline for triggering Article 50.

PM urged to calm the backlash against Brexit ruling.

Theresa May has been urged to calm the backlash against the High Court ruling on the process of leaving the EU. The prime minister has been asked by some senior MPs to "make clear" that the independence of the judiciary is a part of British democracy. Conservative MP Dominic Grieve said the criticisms over the High Court judges' decision were "horrifying" and reminded him of "Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe". On Thursday, the court ruled Parliament should vote on triggering Article 50. Three judges found that the government could not start the formal process - the triggering of Article 50 - of leaving the EU by using the royal prerogative alone, and would need the backing of Parliament. That would require publishing legislation to be debated by the Commons and the Lords. Labour said the decision underlined the need for Mrs May to spell out her plans for Brexit to Parliament "without delay". Leader Jeremy Corbyn will say in a speech to trade unionists and activists later that there needs to be more "transparency" around the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

The High Court judges behind the decision have been heavily criticised by some Conservative MPs and parts of the media. The Daily Mail claimed they were "Enemies of the people" and the Daily Express said the ruling had marked "the day democracy died". Mr Grieve, the former attorney general, told BBC's Newsnight on Friday: "I was horrified at the newspaper coverage, which reminded me of Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe this morning. The judges did exactly what was asked of them. They highlighted that our constitution does not allow you to overturn statute law by decree, which is so well established in this country." Daily Mail columnist Stephen Glover defended the newspaper's stance, saying he did not believe the judges would "feel frightened or worried" about the criticism. He said: "You know, they've made a really decisive intervention in the political process, and they must expect some comeback - and that's what they got." But Bob Neill, the Conservative chairman of the justice select committee, said the criticisms of the High Court ruling by some politicians was "utterly disgraceful". He told the Times newspaper: "All ministers from the prime minister down must now make clear that the independence of the judiciary is fundamental to our democracy. You have to respect that even if you think they have got a decision wrong. Some members of Parliament do not appear to understand that this judgement had nothing do with subverting the will of the people."

All details above from BBC News website.

[It’s funny – and I think instructive – just how many threats are being thrown around at the moment especially considering that the major players think that everything’s just about as done a deal as you can get. The Government threated Parliament not the attempt to thwart the ‘will of the people’. The Government then threated the House of Lords likewise and then moved on to threatening the whole of the EU, or at least the rest of them, not to be too harsh on us leaving – or else! When I hear a person or group making threats like that I always wonder what it is they’re hiding (or hiding behind) and exactly why they’re so afraid – most especially when they say they are and appear to be so strong. Mixed messages are always fertile ground for speculation…..]


Mudpuddle said...

i'm glad someone knows what's going on... (hysterical giggle) "cloud cuckoo land" was first used by some Elizabethan, i think... at least i lately read it in some context like that...

Mudpuddle said...

it was Aristophanes...

Mudpuddle said...

but you knew that, doubtless...

CyberKitten said...

I thought it had to be Greek, Shakespeare or The Bible.... Most things are..