Britain’s economy has picked up pace despite doom-laden warnings over the prospect of Brexit. Figures yesterday showed the recovery is in far better shape than feared with industry clocking up its fastest rate of growth for six years. Industrial production rose by 1.9 per cent in the three months to May, according to the Office for National Statistics – the strongest performance since the three months to May 2010. And in a sign that Britain can prosper outside the EU, an Indian business leader described a trade agreement with the UK as a deal ‘almost made in heaven’.
BRITAIN is more likely to strike a trade agreement with China thanks to the nation’s vote for Brexit – officials from both sides have claimed. Xing Houyan, from the state supported Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, claimed the “situation in Western Europe will push China and the UK to make a trade treaty”. Former Waitrose boss Lord Price claimed the two nations working together could “create a second Elizabethan golden age” while speaking at the Honk Kong chamber of commerce. He said: “I’m optimistic about the future: particularly in helping create a second Elizabethan Golden Age. “The first Golden Age was based on peace, prosperity, new trading markets and a flourishing of the arts. “There’s also a prospect for striking new deals with Canada, New Zealand and Australia which could form the beginning of a Commonwealth trading pact.”
BRITAIN could strike a trade deal with the US that would not push the UK to the “back of the queue” as predicted if Britain ditched the EU. Barack Obama’s top trade chief Michael Froman said the UK could apply to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement between 12 nations including America, Australia, Japan and New Zealand. This contradicts the threats made by Obama in the run-up to the EU referendum where the US President took to the stage with David Cameron to say Britain would be disadvantaged in trade deals if the UK voted for Brexit. Mr Froman’s recent remarks contradict his own comments he made last year. In October, Mr Froman said the US was “not particularly in the market for free trade agreements with individual countries. He added: “I think it’s absolutely clear that Britain has a greater voice at the trade table being part of the EU, being part of a larger economic entity.”
George Osborne and the Wall Street banking giants which helped bankroll the Remain campaign yesterday issued a resounding vote of confidence in the City of London. In a joint statement with the Chancellor, investment banks including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan pledged to ensure the City of London remains the world’s dominant financial centre when it leaves the EU. The firms said that while Brexit ‘clearly presents economic challenges’, they would strive to ensure Britain ‘remains one of the most attractive places in the world to do business’.
The German Finance Minister has hit out against Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s plans to cut the corporation tax rate post-Brexit, saying Germany had “no intention” to join in a “race to the bottom”. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany’s Finance Minister, noted that Mr. Osborne is expected to brief his fellow finance ministers on the plan to slash corporation tax to under 15 per cent, when they meet in Brussels next week. The tax rate on company profits had already been falling, from a high of 28 per cent in 2010 to its current rate of 20 per cent, with further cuts due to take it to 19 per cent next year, and 17 per cent in 2020.
FRANKFURT, July 7 (Reuters) – Britain’s vote to leave the EU could be significantly negative for the euro zone, dampening a growth outlook that is already facing headwinds, the European Central Bank said in the minutes of its June 2 meeting, held before the British referendum. The policymakers concluded that growth was being hurt by a weak external environment, particularly in emerging markets, and continued deleveraging by euro zone companies, and that risks remained tilted to the downside, requiring heightened attention. Still, taking a cautious tone much like the U.S. Federal Reserve a day earlier, the ECB said time would be needed to see the full effect of its already unveiled but not yet implemented policy easing measures, particularly its corporate bond buys and a fresh round of cheap loans.
The epidemic of mass sexual assaults by so-called “foreign men” at Swedish music festivals continues, with reports of nearly 40 assaults, including five rapes, at the country’s largest festival. The shocking revelations come just over a week after 32 similar sexual attacks were reported at ‘Putte i Parken’ (Party in the Park) music festival in Karlstad. This weekend, at the Bravalla Festival in Norrkoping, about 100 miles from Stockholm, one anonymous 15-year-old girl told Expressen how she and six friends had been molested by “foreign youths”.
EGYPT is set to grant hundreds of thousands of migrants free passage into Europe as a bitter row with Italy over a murdered student intensifies. More than 70,000 migrants have travelled from Egypt and Libya to Italy so far this year, but now the North African country is threatening to do nothing to stem the flow – prompting fears countless more could enter Europe in the coming months. The flare-up in relations comes after Italian politicians voted to stop supplying Egypt with spare parts for F-16 fighter jets after the North African nation failed to investigate the death of an Italian student in Cairo. Giulio Regeni, who was studying at Cambridge University, was conducting research on independent trade unions, one of the last bastions of dissent in the military-controlled country. He disappeared on his way to visit a friend on January 25 while police and the military were out in force for the anniversary of the 2011 revolution.
A controversial Swiss law prohibiting Islamic dress has been used to fine a Muslim convert and a businessman, who protested the ban. The rule, which came into effect in Ticino on Friday, was voted in by referendum and outlaws face-covering headgear. Nora Illi and Rachid Nekkaz, who are prominent campaigners for the rights of Muslims, walked in the streets of Locarno in full Islamic dress soon after the rule was introduced.
In just a matter of weeks we’ll have a new Tory leader to serve as our unelected Prime Minister. While the backstabbing contest to make the final ballot will tonight reach a predictable crescendo, we can say one thing about the next Prime Minister for certain: they’re hardly going to be a gay rights champion. Stephen Crabb and Liam Fox might now be out of the leadership race, but the fact they even tried to make it to Number 10 should have us worried. Throughout his time in Parliament, Fox has failed to support any LGBT equality legislation, labelling the introduction of same-sex marriage “divisive” and “absurd”.
A petition calling for Tony Blair to be expelled from the Labour party has received a flurry of signatures in the wake of the publication of the Chilcot report. The 2.6 million words long report found the Iraq War was unleashed on the basis of “flawed” intelligence and the former Prime Minister deliberately blurred the lines between what he believed and what he knew regarding Iraq’s capability to deploy weapons of mass destruction. Sir John Chilcot’s seven-year inquiry said the legal basis for UK military action was “far from satisfactory,” but did not rule on its legality, as that can only be done by an internationally recognised court.
The head of MI6 told Tony Blair that he remained confident about intelligence on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction despite knowing that a key source was a proven liar, the Chilcot report reveals. Sir Richard Dearlove backed the intelligence on Iraq in a letter to the prime minister in July 2003, 24 hours after MI6 quietly withdrew a claim that Saddam Hussein was still making WMD. The agency had concluded that its source was “a fabricator who had lied from the outset”.
Jeremy Corbyn has hailed a 100,000-strong surge in Labour supporters since the EU referendum as evidence of a “political sea change” and insisted he is in tune with the new public mood, as he seeks to quash a rebellion by many of the party’s MPs. As the government prepares to push ahead with a vote on the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent on 18 July in a bid to highlight the deep divisions in Labour over defence policy, Corbyn made it clear he would stand firm against his many critics in Westminster. The prominent backbencher and Labour MP for Aberavon, Stephen Kinnock, said the referendum result meant Labour needed “a persuader, not a protester”, to hold the Conservative government to account, through the tough negotiations with the rest of the EU that will lie ahead.
Labour rebels are in retreat after admitting that Jeremy Corbyn cannot be removed and would “win easily” if a leadership election is triggered. One senior Labour MP said: “It’s finished” as it emerged that lengthy talks between union bosses and Tom Watson, the party’s deputy leader, had failed to find a solution to the deadlock. MPs have now pinned their hopes on a challenge by Angela Eagle, despite many believing that she will not beat Mr Corbyn because of his support among members. It follows weeks of stalemate between the Labour leader’s office and MPs who want to see Mr Corbyn step down without having to trigger a leadership campaign.