There are plenty of reasons to be cheerful in our post-Brexit world. Here are just a few:
Britain leads G7 growth forecasts
The Telegraph reports that Britain is leading G7 growth forecasts and will leave ‘leave the crisis behind’ this year and cement its position as the fastest-growing, large, advanced economy, according to the International Monetary Fund.
In its latest health check of the global economy, the fund predicts the UK would grow by 3.2pc in 2014 and 2.7pc in 2015. Despite uncertainties surrounding the global economy and a growing risk that the world might never return to pre-crisis growth rates, this was unchanged from the IMF’s July estimate, and higher than its April forecasts of 2.9pc in 2014 and 2.5pc next year.
FTSE close to all-time high
As for the FTSE, well it is now close to an all-time hight. So much for the doom and gloom forecasts.
A report on the Proactive Investors site reveals the FTSE closed at 7,074, up 91 points (1.3 per cent), having reached the heady heights of 7,122 at one point – above the record closing level of 7,104.
UK manufacturing figures up
Meanwhile the BBC carries an encouraging story about the the rise in manufacturing levels since the vote. The value of the pound has jumped after a survey indicated the UK’s manufacturing sector rebounded sharply in August.
The Markit/CIPS purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for the sector rose to 53.3 in August from July’s figure of 48.3. A figure above 50 indicates expansion.
The weakening of the pound following the Brexit vote boosted exports, the survey found. Another marked ‘month on month’ recovery to celebrate!
Consumer confidence up
And what of consumers? Well a piece in The Guardian.
The paper reports: “British consumers have recovered some of their swagger after a run of better than expected economic figures calmed nerves following the Brexit vote.
A leading poll of consumers found that a panic in the aftermath of the EU referendum, causing the biggest fall in confidence for 21 years, was partially reversed in August.
Official figures showing strong high street sales in July and am increase in employment, coupled with a soaring stock market, helped bolster the outlook for the coming year, according to the GfK consumer confidence index.”
Consumers are saying the outlook for the economy and their personal fiances had improved.
Employment figures up
More good news in the shape of employment figures with this report on The Independentsite catching the eye.
The report says that the claimant count declined last month, suggesting the labour market held up reasonably well in the wake of the Brexit vote.
The claimant count – which measures the numbers in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance and Universal Credit – fell by 8,600 in July to 764,000 according to the Office for National Statistics. According to the report, financial analysts in the City of London had expected the count to increase by about 9,500.
Tourism is up! The Daily Express reports that The Tourism Alliance revealed an 18 per cent boost in overseas visitors since the Referendum and a 21 per cent boom in ‘staycationers’. The poll of more than 500 tourism businesses in the UK also found 20 per cent were planning to increase their investment in rural areas and seaside towns after the vote. The Brexit bounce also showed British Airways reporting an 80 per cent increase in UK flight searches on its US website in the aftermath of the referendum.
Something has gone down…the deficit! Forbes reports the deficit has decreased despite the doom forecasters!
Tim Worstall reports: “Britain’s trade gap narrowed last month in further evidence of the economy defying initial gloomy Brexit forecasts. The trade deficit in goods and services fell from £5.6billion in June to £4.5billion in July, driven by a post-Brexit boost in exports.
“And figures published today also revealed that Britain’s construction industry recovered slightly in the month following the referendum result, with output up on the previous month. The brighter picture for UK trade was driven by a jump in exports, lifting £800 million to £43.8 billion.”
Mortgage rates down
Despite what the ‘Remainers’ say, What Mortgage no less reports that monthly gross remortgage lending hit its highest level for eight years in July after being boosted by the UK’s vote for Brexit.
Data shows re-mortgage lending was £7.1billion in July as homeowners rushed to lock in lower mortgage rates post-Brexit and the monthly figure for July is up by more than a quarter (27 per cent) from £5.6billion in June and is the largest amount since October 2008.
Meanwhile Reuters reports house prices are up, (‘Remainers’ sad they would fall. A pattern is emerging it seems.
Okay, the Pound is down. But many commentators think that’s a blessing in disguise
This is Money says much the same – “…almost all the recovery periods in Britain’s modern economic history have followed a sterling devaluation…the greenback is benefiting from safe haven status, the decision of the other Western democracies to re-capitalise their banking systems (which places all the countries back on an even footing) and the collapse in commodity prices which shows up quickly in the US through a reduced trade deficit…”
Roger Helmer MEP UKIP formerly Conservative
TAP – nice typo in my title (Brexzit). Given that Brexit is being upgraded from a possibility to a certainty, I thought it could do with a rebrand. ‘Brekzit’ ‘s got a bit more oomph in it.
Brexit is coming faster and getting more certain, as described by Charles Moore in this week’s Spectator.
Checking in to my hotel room on the 18th floor, for the Conservative party conference here, I opened the door and bumped into a workman on a stepladder. ‘Sorry,’ he said, ‘They shouldn’t have let you in. All the water came through from the room upstairs.’ He was painting over the damage. Then he looked at me, recognised me and asked, ‘Hard or soft Brexit, then?’ I burbled slightly, not being happy with the distinction, but eventually said I thought ‘hard’ better described what was needed. The painter told me he read the Guardian and theTelegraph every day to ‘get both sides’. He reckoned ‘hard’, too: ‘It’s got to be divorce.’
People attack the whole business of having an EU referendum, but one of its pluses was that it invited millions of people who had never before been asked to form an opinion on the European question to do so. Like the man on the stepladder, they responded thoughtfully — perhaps more thoughtfully than people do in general elections when a sizeable minority vote pretty much automatically for one party or another. We quickly developed a much more educated electorate. The idea, strongly touted immediately after the result, that the voters’ majority view could be set aside by Parliament because they didn’t know what they were talking about has almost completely vanished from political debate, with the noisy exception of interventions by Kenneth Clarke. Theresa May’s strong recognition of this in her speech here on Sunday makes this one of the most extraordinary party conferences I have ever attended. This is not because of any high drama in the conference hall, where the debates have, if that is possible, been even duller than ever. It is because of the complete and almost calm reversal of a policy which the Tories had until now maintained since the end of the 1950s. Without a flaming row in her party, Mrs May has said unambiguously that the orthodoxy of Macmillan, Heath, Major and Cameron, the orthodoxy which vanquished even Mrs Thatcher, has been dethroned. We’re leaving, and the divorce, though intended to be friendly, will be absolute. The effect on those present is oddly reassuring. Even most Remainers seem keen to get on with leaving. The skill of the pro Europeans over more than half a century was to make people believe that the alternative to membership was unthinkable. In the last six months, everything has moved. First it became thinkable; from this week, it becomes doable. At some point — probably at several points — the negotiations will go badly wrong, as they did indeed when we were trying to travel the other way in the 1960s and General de Gaulle was being difficult. Nevertheless, a sincere decision to leave cannot ultimately be prevented. The Tories are all too used to insincere promises about Europe, but this week they decided that Mrs May is sincere.
During the campaign, the thrall of the old orthodoxy was such that Leave campaigners were reluctant to speak openly about leaving the single market. They feared that the prospect would seem too frightening. Now, though Mrs May did not quite state it in those terms, it is overwhelmingly likely that we shall leave the single market. One reason was put to me succinctly here by Alexander Downer, the Australian High Commissioner. If we don’t, he says, we shall, in effect, still be in the EU (though without voting power), so countries like his will not be able to do any trade deal with Britain, and will have to stick with Brussels.
It is only those educated out of their wits who still find it difficult to understand the terms involved. The leader in Monday’s Times, angered by Mrs May’s speech, said she was being ‘irresponsible’ to claim that Britain would now become a ‘sovereign and independent country’: ‘Every treaty obligation that a country enters into involves some dilution of sovereignty. By definition, it means agreeing not to do some things and thereby gaining a collective benefit.’ You might as well say that someone who enters into a contract with somebody else thereby ceases to be an independent individual. Indeed, the word ‘treaty’ does not really make any sense as a term in international relations unless it refers to agreements made between sovereign powers.
Mrs May’s plain style may well come to irritate people in a few months, but just now it is extremely popular. The lack of glamour, soundbites, smart clothes, and ministerial overclaiming is a blessed relief. I can’t pretend that I find Mrs May an endearing figure, but when she said in her speech that Britain should not go round saying ‘We are punching above our weight’ (a phrase beloved of the Foreign Office), I almost wanted to hug her. There isn’t even much party knockabout. In the old days, any speech which made some pathetic jibe against ‘the brothers last week in Blackpool’ could be guaranteed laughter and applause. Now Labour is scarcely mentioned, and Jeremy Corbyn, though undoubtedly the most unintentionally comic figure ever to have led the Labour party, is passed over in silence.
I didn’t see the press pick it up, but Liam Fox made a good point in his platform speech here, about how trade works in the modern world to the advantage of a country like Britain. Francis Fukuyama, he said, would have done better to have written a book called not The End of History, but The End of Geography.
Heywood Hill, the famed bookshop, is 80 this year. To win its celebratory Grand Prize of a new hardback a month for life, you have to nominate the book published in English since 1936 which has ‘meant the most to you’, explaining your reasons in no more than three words, which makes a haiku prolix. Then there is a prize draw of the entries. Along with several other writers, I have been asked to nominate a book. I think I would say The Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot, and my reasons would lie, slightly cryptically, in Eliot’s own words, ‘Now and England’.