Continuing the tradition of trumpeting the good news about Brexit, here’s my round-up of some of the stories last week highlighting the positivity about leaving the EU that you may have missed. In reading some of your comments in the last couple of weeks, I know that there is an appetite for the full articles, so I will, where possible, include links.
Also, in my Business Statement to the Commons last week I gave notice that the first two days of the Committee Stage of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill will be held on Tuesday 14th and Wednesday 15th November; this will be a Committee of the whole House and brings us closer to passing this vital piece of legislation.
So, what’s happened in the last week? Well, the Office for National Statistics has confirmed that the UK economy grew faster than expected in the three months to September, with GDP growing by 0.4 per cent this quarter following an expansion of 0.3 per cent in Q2.
It was wonderful to hear Michael Bloomberg echoing what I have been saying throughout the referendum campaign and beyond. In London, at the opening of the new European headquarters of his multi-billion pound business, Bloomberg said “Whatever London and the UK’s relationship to the EU proves to be, London’s language, time zone, talent, infrastructure and culture all position it to grow as a global capital for years to come… London is the business capital of Europe and I think it will remain the business capital of Europe.” The building, which is said to have cost ~£1bn, can hold up to 8,000 people in addition to the 4,000 Bloomberg employees already based in London. As a financial hub, as a centre for trade, as a cultural melting-pot, for numerous other reasons, it is clear that London is the number one city in the world for business.
This status as a global financial hub was confirmed by the Bank of England’s deputy governor for financial stability. Last week Sir Jon Cunliffe, a member of the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee, stated his confidence that the City is going nowhere and its success cannot be replicated on the continent. Sir Jon said “it takes an awful lot of critical mass of expertise and knowledge” and that he thought the capital's financial centre crown was unlikely to be displaced.
Willie Walsh, Chief Executive of the International Airlines Group which owns British Airways, has rubbished claims that flights will be grounded after Brexit. Walsh said that he is “confident that there’ll be a comprehensive agreement between the UK and the EU on air travel”. Supermarket chains Aldi and Lidl are pressing ahead with their rapid expansion plans, demonstrating their trust in Britain as an excellent place to invest. Between them, the companies have filed 90 planning applications for new supermarkets so far this year.
Our Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, and his counterpart in Spain, Alfonso Dastis, have both spoken positively about the future of reciprocity of rights. Boris said in a speech to the Belvedere Forum on Polish-UK relations that all EU citizens living in the UK will have their rights protected “whatever happens” after Brexit. Meanwhile Spain’s Foreign Minister has said more than 300,000 expats living in Spain will be allowed to stay despite a “no deal” Brexit.
And finally, it was excellent to hear the news that the UK and our close friends in Ireland will retain our Common Travel Area policy. Businesses have already hailed the move as a huge boost to trade between our two countries, and something that will eliminate many of the Brexit fears over Anglo-Irish trade, travel and social issues. Furthermore, Irish and UK citizens will continue to have their common social welfare and healthcare entitlements respected by each country. We have always had a close and special relationship with the people of Ireland, and I am very pleased that this progress has been made.