Brexit is now a mere 19 months away. Considering the number of issues and agreements coupled with what many view as an unfocused British approach to the negotiations, it may arrive all too soon. In this instalment of the biweekly TransferGo Blog series we look at some of the latest Brexit developments include a Bank of England warning, Mick Jagger’s political views, and
more groups voicing staffing concerns.
Bank of England governor issues warning
Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, stated that the uncertainty created by Brexit is weighing negatively on the economy. Carney’s comments came as the Bank voted to hold interest rates and cut forecasts for future growth. The Bank stated they will hold interest rates at the current rate of 0.25% and have revised the growth rate to 1.7% from the 1.9% forecast issued in May. Following the Bank’s vote, the pound dropped to 1.106 euros which is a nine-month low and when announcing the vote, it was stated that slow business investment and reluctance to increase wages were key factors in their decision.
Pro-Brexit lobby group co-chairman and former British Chambers of Commerce director general John Longworth was fairly quick to dispute Carney’s statement. Longworth noted that business confidence is indeed “lower than it ought to be”, but added that the Bank of England was “notoriously bad at forecasting… we should always take it with a pinch of salt”.
UK universities express Brexit concerns
The Russell Group, which consists of 24 UK universities including Oxford, Cambridge, and Cardiff, has stated that the universities fear losing talented EU staff as a result of Brexit.
The group notes that Brexit is causing “uncertainty and anxiety” among EU staff members and making recruitment more difficult. They called on the government for “greater clarity” on the rights of EU nationals post-Brexit. In a briefing the group referred to the work done by EU national, particularly in teaching and research as “crucial” and went on to state;
“More broadly, EU staff and students add to the diversity of our campuses and enrich the learning experience for all. We need to do everything we can to ensure these individuals feel valued and supported to stay in the UK.”
The briefing included ten points the group would like to see addressed. This included the rights of students enrolling in the next two years be granted the right to continue, an efficient application process, cross-border recognition of EU and UK qualifications, and the right for students and faculty to be abroad for up to two years with no effect on status.
Free movement to end March 2019
Regardless of how the Leave referendum was presented to many, the key issue was immigration and the need to “take back control” of the UK’s borders. UK government ministers have stated that free movement between the EU and the UK will end
in March 2019 and that workers after that date will have to register with the government.
The Home Secretary did go to great lengths to reassure businesses that the so-called “cliff edge” in regards to employing foreign workers will not occur. As has been noted in previous TransferGo Brexit posts, a diverse sector of businesses and industries have issued warnings on the impact of Brexit. She went on to add;
“We will ensure we continue to attract those who benefit us economically, socially and culturally. But, at the same time, our new immigration system will give us control of the volume of people coming here – giving the public confidence we are applying our own rules on who we want to come to the UK and helping us to bring down net migration to sustainable levels.”
There is growing talk of a transitional agreement to take effect after March 2019 which would end prior to the 2022 elections. Chancellor Phillip Hammond has been building what is termed as significant support for the transitional plan while PM May is on holiday in Switzerland. The government has commissioned a study to ascertain the impact of Brexit in terms of workforce and business growth. However, the study will not be delivered until September 2018, just six months before Brexit.
Food hygiene and animal welfare “overwhelming reliant” on EU workers
The Lords EU Environment Committee has stated concern over the future of animal welfare and food hygiene after Brexit saying that 90% of the official veterinarians in abattoirs are EU nationals.
The vets are key in a number of areas including human slaughtering techniques, proper certification of animal shipments, and ante and post mortem testing in abattoirs. The chair of the committee Lord Teverson, a Lib Dem, noted:
“We see no reason why Brexit should diminish animal welfare standards, as long as the government is aware of the challenges ahead and acts accordingly. We heard evidence of undeniable concern that opening up the UK market to free global trade poses a number of issues. We heard overwhelming support for farm animal welfare standards to be maintained or improved. To help achieve that, we urge the government to secure the inclusion of high farm animal welfare standards in any free trade agreements it negotiates after Brexit.”
No Irish border for Brexiteers
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has stated the Irish government will not design a border for Brexiteers and noted he did not want to establish any economic border on the island.
The border between Ireland and the UK is a major challenge as March 2019 nears. The Taoiseach stated “We are going to try and find solutions or at least minimise the damage to relations between Britain and Ireland, to the peace process and to trading links.” Newspaper reports have stated the Irish government wanted to establish customs and immigration at seaports, an assertion that the Irish Foreign minister has denied.
Mick Jagger not politically optimistic
Mick Jagger has not released a solo album since Tony Blair and George W. Bush were in office. In debuting his two new songs “England Lost” and “Get a Grip” the Rolling Stones lead singer notes that even sixteen years after his last release the two countries are still in disarray. He stated the songs were written due to the “anxiety [and] unknowability of the changing political
situation” and added, “We obviously have a lot of problems. So am I politically optimistic? No.” In “London Lost” Jagger sings “I’m tired of talking about immigration / You can’t get in and you can’t get out / I guess that’s what we’re all about.”