Immigration: Beating the rush
The Commons Home Affairs Committee has published a report attacking the ambiguity of the government on EU immigration issues around Brexit, and calling for early clarification. They warn of an immigration “spike” as EU citizens seek to beat expected future restrictions. It seems to me that our government should urgently do three things: first, invoke Article 50 without further delay. Second, declare that any EU citizen legally resident in the UK before June 23rd 2016 (Referendum Day) will have an unchallenged right to remain; and third, declare that post-Referendum arrivals will not necessarily have that right. Those measures would prevent an immigration “spike”, and would give us the tools to deal with any increase that might occur.
GSK to invest £275 million in post-Brexit UK
We have seen a number of companies that warned against Brexit during the Referendum campaign, but have since come to terms with the idea – not least Siemens.
Now GSK, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, has announced a further investment of £275 million in the UK, despite having warned against Brexit during the referendum. This is a powerful endorsement of Britain’s post-Brexit prospects.
Chief Executive Andrew Witty, who backed the Remain campaign, said the UK’s skilled workforce and competitive tax system helped drive the decision.
GSK said that most of the products made at the expanded sites would be exported, and that it expected its investment to create new jobs. “It is testament to our skilled UK workforce and the country’s leading position in life sciences that we are making these investments in advanced manufacturing here,” said Mr Witty.
In other comments, GSK also pointed to the lower value of the Pound, which made investment more attractive and exports more competitive.
R&D opportunities: I commented yesterday on the letter from Prof Nick Donaldson of University College London arguing that Brexit will attract more medical research to the UK when we’re free of restrictive EU regulation. It’s worth noting that the EU’s Clinical Trials Directive virtually destroyed the clinical trials business across the EU and in the UK. The government should give high priority to repealing that measure, and making the UK an attractive place for clinical and pharmaceutical research.
Fox puts pressure on May to leave the EU Customs Union
The FT reports tensions between Trade Secretary Liam Fox and the Prime Minister over the terms of Brexit. Fox wants us out of the EU Customs Union (the “Single Market”) so as to have maximum flexibility to negotiate new trade deals around the world. May fears this may create problems for exporters, and tensions with Ireland. But clearly Fox is right. “Brexit within the EU Customs Union” is not Brexit at all. It would end up as quasi-EU-membership, with all the costs and restrictions that would imply.
As I argued at length yesterday, what we want is full independence plus a free trade deal with the EU. That’s Dr. Fox’s view, and he’s absolutely right. It’s the practical and achievable solution.
US set to resume imports of British beef and lamb
In a small but highly significant indication of post-Brexit opportunities, the Telegraphreports that exports of British beef and lamb to the USA will resume shortly, twenty years after they were banned as a result of mad cow disease. Agriculture Minister George Eustace is set to announce the decision formally tomorrow at the National Sheep Association show at Malvern. Great news, and much more to come.
Sturgeon under attack for posturing on the EU
The Express reports the attack on Nicola Sturgeon by Tory Murdo Fraser, pointing out that the EU now accounts for significantly less than half of Scotland’s exports – and the figure is declining. Adding that Scotland sells more than four times as much to the rest of the UK than it does to the rest of the EU, Murdo warns that Sturgeon should not let her EU obsession jeopardise Scotland’s relationship with its biggest market.
Brexit to boost Broadband speeds?
The Telegraph reports that one reason why Ofcom was reluctant to instruct BT to part company with Open Reach was because “Ninety percent of Ofcom’s legal basis is controlled by Brussels”. It is said that under current rules, BT could go to Brussels to challenge Ofcom’s decision, and that former state telecoms monopolies in Germany, France, Spain and Italy – some of which are still part government owned — would strongly resist moves that might create a precedent for themselves.
I thought that during the Referendum Campaign we had explored all the potential benefits of Brexit, but I have to confess that “faster broadband speeds” is one I’d missed.
Roger Helmer MEP