Blog: The Green New Deal has come of age just in time –

We have a clear plan to meet the demands of the climate strikers, argues Green MEP Molly Scott Cato

Millions of people, the majority of them school, college and university students, took to the streets across the world this month, to demand immediate action on the climate emergency. It’s clear they want…

Source: “financial regulation” – Google News

Blog: No-deal Brexit threat sends banking volumes in Britain to 28-yr low – Reuters

LONDON, Oct 1 (Reuters) – The threat of a no-deal Brexit has sent profits and sentiment in Britain’s financial services falling at their fastest pace since the global financial crash a decade ago, a CBI/PwC survey showed on Tuesday.

The latest quarterly survey by the CBI, a business trade body and consultants PwC, said that in the three months to Sept. 30, the level of business activity at banks fell at its fastest pace in 28 years.

Banking, insurance and investment funds bring in billions of pounds in tax revenues for the British economy, but direct access from London to its most important market, the European Union, could be blocked if there is a no-deal Brexit on October 31.

The quarterly survey of 83 firms found that optimism about overall business in financial services fell at the quickest pace since September 2008 when the Lehman Brothers crash deepened the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

The level of optimism has now been flat or falling for 15 consecutive quarters.

“The sector is the jewel in the crown of the UK’s world-leading services industry,” said CBI Chief Economist, Rain Newton-Smith.

“While it’s encouraging that investment plans have improved, the threat of a ‘no deal’ Brexit is hitting confidence.”

Britain has yet to secure a divorce settlement with Brussels, with only a month to go before it leaves the EU.

Financial firms in Britain have spent millions of pounds opening hubs in the EU to cope with whatever form Brexit takes.

Profits fell at their quickest pace since June 2009, but headcount in banking grew at the fastest pace in since December 2006, probably due to increased regulatory requirements, the survey showed.

Andrew Kail, PwC’s head of financial services, said there has been a drop-off in plans to launch new products and services as firms batten down the hatches in expectation of a turbulent few months.

Looking ahead to the December quarter, business volumes are expected to fall further, the survey showed. For the coming year, new regulation, Brexit, IT spending and customers switching to rivals would hit business most.

Reporting by Huw Jones. Editing by Jane Merriman

Source: “financial regulation” – Google News

Blog: Who will succeed Mark Carney? Brexit brings uncertainty to BOE – The Business Times

Tue, Oct 01, 2019 – 5:50 AM


THE British government is hiring.

Requirements: a candidate who can keep markets calm, put up with criticism from politicians and deftly respond to an unprecedented economic event as Britain tears itself away from the European Union (EU), while the rest of the world economy stutters.

Send applications to: unknown.

The person who succeeds Mark Carney as leader of the Bank of England (BOE) will have to brace for a challenge. When Britain voted to leave the EU, Mr Carney was quick to reassure the public that the central bank would support the economy as the country worked to severe the relationship.

Then came three tortuous years of negotiations between London and Brussels over the terms of departure. Mr Carney, who was due to leave the job in 2018, agreed twice to extend his term as the Brexit process ground on, working toward monetary and financial stability as the rupture with Europe threatened the very economy he was aiming to keep steady.

But now, as Mr Carney’s Jan 31 departure approaches, the appointment of the bank’s next governor is entangled in the most political of issues: who will be running the British government in a few months and managing Brexit?

Under former Prime Minister Theresa May, Britain’s government started the search for a successor earlier this year. But there was no decision before Mrs May lost her way in the Brexit battle and was succeeded by the current prime minister, Boris Johnson.

The Treasury put a call out for applicants in April and maintains that it expects to make an appointment in the autumn. That choice would require the prime minister’s blessing and then a review by a parliamentary committee. But Parliament continues to be torn by Brexit, leaving little opportunity for any significant committee work before the departure date of Oct 31.

Mr Johnson’s tactics to push on with Brexit – even expelling members of his own party who disagreed in the last few weeks – has roiled all the political parties, with some members of Parliament calling for a new election. This has added more uncertainty to the selection of the bank chief and raised the question of whether the current government will be in charge.

The parliamentary committee responsible for scrutinising the appointment wrote to the chancellor of the Exchequer on Sept 18 seeking confirmation of whether the appointment would be going ahead as planned. No response has been posted on the committee’s website.

“It’s part of a political mess that the UK’s managed to get itself into,” said Charles Goodhart, a professor at the London School of Economics, who has sat on the bank’s monetary policy committee. This mess, Prof Goodhart added, had made the appointment “much more complicated than it normally is”.

Whoever takes on the role will be tasked with targeting inflation, regulating banks and responding to whatever fallout Brexit may bring.

“We’re asking our governor to be an expert in monetary policy and politics and communications, but also financial regulation and managing financial risk,” said Ed Balls, a former member of Parliament who was chief economic adviser to the Treasury in the late 1990s when the government made the bank independent and gave it control over monetary policy. “It takes an almost superhuman person to be able to play all these different roles.”

The next governor will have little, if any, time to warm up to the job. Mr Carney has insisted he is leaving on Jan 31.

The next BOE governor may also face pressure from the government to help shore up the economy post-Brexit. “There will be a lot of pressure, political demands made,” said Adam S Posen, president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics and a former member of the monetary policy committee at the bank.

Whoever succeeds Mr Carney will face an economy where investment has sunk, held back by the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, and growth that is still positive, but has weakened. The BOE’s inflation target is 2 per cent and Britain is at 1.7 per cent.

Inflation could soar if the pound, which has tumbled against the US dollar amid Brexit uncertainty, hurtles lower after a no-deal departure. At the same time, the economy could take a hit from the shock of Brexit.

“That is the rock and a hard place” for a central banker, said Richard Portes, a professor at London Business School. “It’s not a pretty picture to any reasonable economist.”

The next governor will also be limited in his or her ability to respond to conniptions in the economy when global growth is slowing. “There’s not going to be any good news,” said Mr Posen at the Peterson Institute. “All the major central banks, all the major western economies are reaching a point where the next recession is going to be more than monetary policy alone can offset.”

The BOE’s benchmark interest rate is already low. It moved from 0.5 per cent before the Brexit referendum in 2016 to 0.25 per cent afterward. It has since risen to 0.75 per cent.

The BOE declined to comment, but Mr Carney in recent weeks has pointed out the limits to what central banks can do.

“In the end, monetary policy can only help smooth the adjustment to the major real shock that an abrupt no-deal Brexit would entail,” Mr Carney said in a speech at a meeting of central bankers at the end of August.

Against this backdrop, whoever takes on the job would have to be a great communicator, said Zsolt Darvas, a researcher at Bruegel, a think tank. “It’s important how clearly the message goes through, how financial markets understand communications from the central bank,” Mr Darvas added. “In an uncertain financial environment, it’s more important than in an ordinary economic downturn.” NYTIMES

Source: “financial regulation” – Google News

Blog: Brexit: UK ‘proposes customs centres on both sides of border’ – BBC News

Signs near Irish borderImage copyright Reuters
Image caption The proposals would mean customs sites created on both sides of the border

The UK has proposed creating a number of customs sites on both sides of the Irish border as a replacement to the Brexit backstop, it has been reported.

Irish national broadcaster RTÉ has seen extracts of proposals sent from London to the European Union.

The proposals would mean posts created on both sides of the border, potentially five to 10 miles back from the land frontier.

The ideas are contained in documents submitted during recent EU discussions.

BBC Europe editor Katya Adler said were the customs sites to become the official UK position, it would be dismissed and rejected by the EU as insufficient.

The Irish government said it had yet to see any credible alternatives to the backstop.

Tracking devices

Currently, there are no border posts, physical barriers or checks on people or goods crossing the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The backstop is a measure in the withdrawal agreement, between Theresa May and the EU, which is designed to ensure that continues after the UK leaves the EU.

It comes into effect only if the deal deciding the future relationship between the UK and EU is not agreed by the end of the transition period.

RTÉ says UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted Northern Ireland remain completely outside the EU’s customs union for industrial goods and agri-food products.

Under the British proposals, both the UK and EU would create what are believed to be called “customs clearance sites” but to all intents and purposes a customs post, the broadcaster reports.

It says consignments would be checked and cleared at the sites, with data being provided to the customs authorities on both sides of the border.

Image copyright Getty Images

Image caption Currently, there are no border posts, physical barriers or checks on people or goods crossing the border

The authorities would decide on the basis of the data which truck or consignments to check.

It is understood there could be up to 10 such sites on either side of the border.

Also included is the proposal that goods moving from a customs clearance site on the northern side of the border to a similar site on the southern side would be monitored in real time using GPS via mobile phone data, or tracking devices placed on trucks or vans.

The ideas are contained in one of four so-called non-papers submitted by UK officials during recent technical discussions in Brussels.

‘Out of the question’

Proposals for reaching a Brexit deal had been expected ahead of a crucial EU summit on 17 October.

The UK is due to leave the EU on 31 October, and Mr Johnson says this will happen whether or not there is a new deal with Brussels.

A spokesman for the Irish government said: “The EU Task force has indicated that any non-papers it has received from the UK to date fall well short of the agreed aims and objectives of the backstop.

“Ireland’s priorities are protecting the Good Friday Agreement, avoiding a hard border and protecting the all island economy, and protecting the EU single market and its benefits for Irish businesses and consumers.”

Sinn Féin leader Mary-Lou McDonald tweeted that the “proposal to reimpose a hard border on our island” was “out of the question”.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said the proposals failed to meet the UK’s obligations to avoid physical infrastructure.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a mile, five miles or 10 miles away, the presence of physical checks will create economic and security challenges that are unacceptable,” he said.

Source: “brexit” – Google News

Blog: A Visit to the Pro-Brexit Coastal Town of Hartlepool – The New Yorker

In the Brexit referendum, in 2016, there were few places in Britain where the margin in favor of leaving the E.U. was as wide as in Hartlepool, a coastal town in the northeast of the country where sixty-nine per cent of voters favored breaking with the European Union. Hartlepool, which has a population of about ninety thousand people, almost all of them white and of British descent, has an ancient history. At the highest point of the oldest part of town, on a promontory known as the Headland, sits the Church of Saint Hilda, a handsome building erected in the twelfth century on the ruins of a Saxon monastery. The church honors Saint Hild, a seventh-century noblewoman and abbess cited for her wisdom and learning by the Venerable Bede, England’s first great historian, and the author of the “Ecclesiastical History of the English People.”

Hartlepool’s fortunes have risen and fallen over the centuries that followed, like the tide that beats against its fortified sea walls. After its Saxon heyday, the settlement on the Headland declined, only to be revived under the Normans in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, when it became a lively trading port. The town languished again in the fourteenth century, beset, like the rest of the country, by civil unrest that followed the Black Death, which eliminated up to half of Britain’s population. In the sixteenth century, prosperity gradually returned, and, by the Georgian period, the town was home to wealthy merchants and a thriving shipbuilding industry. In the nineteenth century, the coming of the railways further boosted Hartlepool’s fortunes, and its port grew, exporting coal from mines in the region: the town, which is about two hundred and fifty miles north of London, and only about eighty miles south of the Scottish border, flourished for the better part of a century. By the latter decades of the twentieth century, Hartlepool, like many other towns in the northeast of England, saw the dwindling of its manufacturing base, and the shuttering of traditional industries. In 1987, Margaret Thatcher went to Teesside (an area named for the River Tees, which meets the North Sea just south of Hartlepool) for what became known as her “walk in the wilderness.” The photographs showed her picking her way in pumps through the weed-grown forecourts of disused factories, handbag in hand—an emblem of the region’s demoralization.

There has been considerable regeneration in the town: in the nineties, a new marina was built, and an award-winning maritime museum celebrates the glory years of two centuries ago. More recently, a pleasant pedestrianized plaza was constructed around the Hartlepool Art Gallery, and the town’s old post office has been refurbished as a loft-like, light-filled hub for startups in the creative industries. Still, the energy of renewal is not felt everywhere. Heavy industry and the factories that, in early generations, guaranteed school-leavers a job, have continued to decline. Under the Conservative government’s policy of economic austerity, which was imposed in 2010 after the global financial crisis, local-government spending has been cut by a third. Last week, the government released a report titled “English Indices of Deprivation,” measuring access to employment, levels of income, standards of health and education, and the incidence of crime, among other factors. Of three hundred and seventeen local authorities across the country, Hartlepool ranked fifth in terms of income deprivation, with twenty-three per cent of its population—and twenty-eight per cent of its children—living in households with inadequate income. It ranked fourth in employment deprivation: eighteen per cent of its population have insufficient work.

Hartlepool has long been a reliably Labour-voting town, but, earlier this month, the town’s local council earned national headlines when ten of its members, mostly elected as Independents, defected to join the Brexit Party, forming a majority coalition with three members of the Conservative Party. The move took place within the crucible of small-town politics, with all the predictable personal rivalries and score-settling such a context implies. But it had a larger import, too, as an exemplar of what such cross-party pro-Brexit alliances might accomplish at a national level. The incumbent Labour M.P. for Hartlepool, Mike Hill, voted to remain in the E.U. in the referendum, though he has said he wants to honor the wishes of his constituents by securing a good exit deal. In the past year, Hill has voted repeatedly against the Brexit deal offered by Theresa May; he was among those M.P.s who voted earlier this month to pass a law aimed at preventing the possibility of exiting the E.U. without a deal at all on October 31st. Hill is currently suspended from his party, pending investigation into sexual-harassment charges. (Hill has said that he “completely rejects” the allegations.) When the expected general election is called, the Brexit Party will be fielding as its candidate for Hartlepool a local businessman named Ken Hodcroft, who is also the former chairman of the Hartlepool United football club. The Brexit Party was formed earlier this year, by Nigel Farage, the former leader of the right-wing, Euroskeptic UKIP, on the close to single-issue platform of leaving the E.U. without a deal. If the Party is to gain any representation in Parliament, Hartlepool is the kind of place where it is most likely to succeed.

A few days after news broke of the mass defection, Shane Moore, the Hartlepool council leader and one of the newly-minted Brexit Party councillors, happened to be in London for an official engagement at the House of Lords. I caught up with him at the café of the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square: he had studied art in high school and tries to spend a few hours at the museum whenever he comes down south on business. Moore, who is thirty-seven, is tall and slim, with a close-shaven head and geeky glasses. We both ordered English breakfast tea, and he explained his decision to join the Brexit Party. “There was an awful lot of frustration locally from residents, about everything that is going on down here,” he said. “And there is an awful lot of resentment with our local Labour M.P. Hartlepool was an almost seventy per cent Leave town, and people are just angry.”

Before signing up with the Brexit Party, Moore was an Independent, though he was elected to the council in 2016 as a member of UKIP, which was led at the time by Farage. Moore grew up in the district he represents, the Headland and Harbour Ward; he first won his seat by a margin of two votes. “My mum and my dad, that’s what I put it down to,” he told me. He left UKIP in January, 2018, when the Party’s xenophobia had become increasingly explicit. His grandmother was an immigrant from Germany, who came to the U.K. after the Second World War, and he does not consider himself a nationalist. “I have no desire to stoke division or hatred with anybody—life’s too short,” he said. Post-Brexit, he said, he would like Britain to be a more global, outward-looking country. “Brexiteers often get accused of being Little Englanders, but we’re not—at least, I’m not,” he went on. “The E.U. is a very protectionist, inward-looking market, but actually our place is in the world, and we need to look outward, and I think that is where our destiny lies. Of course, we also need to work with our European neighbors and partners, because we are not going to be able to up anchor and move the British Isles.”

Moore said that he had appreciated being beholden to no one as an Independent representative on the council, and had hesitated to sign up to the Brexit Party—the platform of which, beyond arguing for a clean break with the E.U., he struggled to recollect, when asked what else the Party stood for. In part, he explained, he had initially joined the ruling coalition in order to get some traction on local issues that he cares about: there are plans to build a playground on the Headland, a development that his five-year-old daughter is particularly excited about. But he had also joined the Brexit Party out of a sense of strategic necessity. “The Remain-backing parties, like the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party, and the Labour Party, are now coming together to form almost a Remain alliance, and will do everything they can to block Brexit happening, so it was felt that we could send a clear message that the Brexit Party and the Conservative Party should just swallow their pride and work together,” he explained. In fact, the Labour Party has not unambiguously declared it will campaign for Remain in a general election, to the frustration of many of its members. But skepticism about the true motives of Westminster politicians prevails on both sides of the Brexit divide. Moore’s perspective on the strategy of Prime Minister Boris Johnson—that, though Johnson insists that he is ready to leave the E.U. without a deal on October 31st, he won’t ultimately go through with it—is the mirror image of the belief expressed around many anti-Brexit dinner tables in London: that, though Johnson talks about wanting a deal, what he really wants is to crash out without one.

Moore said that under the circumstances, he thought it in Britain’s best interest to leave the E.U. without a deal by the October deadline—though, he added, he would like to see a transition period in which to negotiate a free-trade agreement, workers’ rights, and arrangements for foreign students at British universities. He told me that he was not fearful of shortages of food and medicine, as laid out in the government’s own Yellowhammer document. He views the report as the sort of risk assessment that any company or council needs to undertake in order to be adequately prepared. “I understand that there is a potential risk there, but the risk has been, in my opinion, mitigated,” he said. Despite warnings from the Confederation of British Industry earlier this year that the northeast would suffer disproportionately under a no-deal Brexit, Moore regards as condescending any suggestion that people in his region did not understand the possible consequences of their choice when they voted to leave. He himself comes from five generations of trawlermen, he explained, and had long heard uncles and cousins complaining about E.U. regulations over fishing. “I knew exactly what I was voting for,” he said. “David Cameron made it very clear: we have two years to negotiate a deal, and then we leave with or without a deal. The only way we can move forward on this is actually to deliver on it, get it over and done with, and rip the plaster off,” he went on, using the British term for a Band-Aid. “And then we can sit down over a cup of tea and sort out our differences after that—because, otherwise, it’s just going to continue to hurt.”

Having finished our own tea, I asked Moore to show me his favorite art work in the museum: a painting by the eighteenth-century British artist Joseph Wright, who lived and worked in Derby, in the Midlands, and who was a master of the technique of chiaroscuro, showing the play of light and shadow. We found it on the wall of a lofty gallery: “An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump.” Wright’s canvas depicted members of a family gathered around a table, where a frock-coated scientist demonstrated the novel use of a vacuum cylinder by extracting the air from a glass vessel, asphyxiating a cockatoo imprisoned within. Wright had shown the very different responses of the individuals around the table at the experiment. The family’s three sons were rapt, while candlelight illuminated the upturned face of the youngest child, a girl perhaps a little older than Moore’s daughter. She worriedly eyed the dying bird, and grasped the skirt of her big sister, who was shielding her own eyes in horror. “It’s quite morbid, really,” Moore remarked as we left the gallery, which was closing for the evening. “It is an odd subject, but I have just always been drawn to it. The lighting, and the depth—just everything about it. I have always loved it.”

Source: “brexit” – Google News

Blog: Tory chairman warns of civil unrest if Brexit not delivered –

James Cleverly refused to reveal how Boris Johnson will deliver on his “do or die” pledge to deliver Brexit | Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images

Tory chairman warns of civil unrest if Brexit not delivered

The danger is the people ‘will look at other ways of initiating change’ than the ballot box, says James Cleverly.

MANCHESTER, England — The U.K.’s Conservative Party Chairman James Cleverly said a failure to deliver Brexit on October 31 could spark civil unrest.

He told a POLITICO London Playbook event Monday at the Tory Party conference in Manchester that Brexit is a “warning shot” and argued “democracy breaks” if votes are not respected.

Cleverly also said that ministers will not help their opponents thwart Brexit by revealing how the government will bypass a no-deal law. A new law, known as the Benn Act, requires the prime minister to request an extension from EU leaders if he has failed to secure a deal by the next European Council meeting on October 17 and 18.

Asked about how the U.K. government would bypass the law, Cleverly said: ”I’m not going to tell you … what we’ve seen is parties distorting the parliamentary process, breaking conventions, taking a very creative interpretation of parliamentary procedures, to prevent the government discharging a promise the prime minister made — and indeed the promise that all parties made at the referendum. And I’m not going to help them by showing them our homework.”

Referring to the Benn Act, Cleverly warned: “Legislation passed in a rush tends to be bad legislation.”

But his strongest comments were over concerns of civil unrest if Brexit does not happen on October 31. Asked if he shares those concerns, Cleverly said: “Yes I do.” He added: “Civil unrest could happen. I’m not saying it will — or that it’s even likely — but it is possible.”

Cleverly said a failure to deliver Brexit would “undermine the confidence that people have in our democracy.”

He went on: “The British people — millions of them — said to us in 2016 that the current relationship with the EU is not working, and also by extension they were saying our kind of relationship with politics isn’t working.

“We either listen to that and show people — the millions of people who voted — that if you want to initiate change, the best and most appropriate and most effective way of doing so is in the ballot box.

“And if the message we are sending to them is the ballot box is not the best possible way to initiate change, it might be — I’m not saying definitely or possibly — that they will look at other ways of initiating change.”

Earlier this week, an unnamed Cabinet minister told the Times a failure to deliver Brexit could lead to a “violent popular uprising” like the Yellow Vest movement in France or the L.A. riots in 1992.

“People don’t think it’s possible in this country just because it has not happened before,” the minister told the paper. “Now they have a model — gilets jaunes — they have encrypted phones to coordinate it, and it only takes a couple of nasty populist frontmen to inspire people.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to take the U.K. out of the EU “do or die” on October 31 — but opposition MPs voted through a bill blocking a no-deal Brexit on that date.

Source: “brexit” – Google News