Carney face political heat in Britain for BoE’s low interest rates

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com – – Tue, 15 Nov, 2016) London, UK – –

Bank Of England
James Stringer/flickr

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said verbal attacks by politicians on central banks, such as criticism by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump of the U.S. Federal Reserve, were a “massive blame-deflection exercise”.

Carney has faced political heat in Britain for the BoE's low interest rates while Trump, during the U.S. presidential election campaign, accused the Federal Reserve of keeping rates low due to pressure from the Obama administration.

“The President-elect has voiced some views on the Fed and the stance of monetary policy,” Carney said in response to questions from members of Britain's parliament on Tuesday.

Carney said it was “very important” to explain that the causes of ultra-low interest rates in Britain and other rich countries went far beyond decisions made by central bankers

“An excessive focus on monetary policy in many respects is a massive blame-deflection exercise,” he told a committee in parliament.

Carney has previously said interest rates are low because they reflect weaker demand and investment, a trend that has been developing worldwide since the 1980s due to factors such as globalization, the impact of technology and aging populations.

Reversing this long-run trend was not in the BoE's power, Carney said on Tuesday, and he called on governments to step up.

“We could be stuck in this trap, and I use that word advisedly, for decades … if we don't see major structural reforms,” he told lawmakers.

The BoE cut interest rates to a record low of 0.25 percent in August to help the British economy cope with the impact of the decision by voters to leave the European Union in June.

“I WILL LEAVE JUNE 30, 2019”

Carney reiterated on Tuesday that the central bank had a neutral stance on future interest rate moves.

Weak October inflation figures were a blip and the BoE intended to tolerate an overshoot of its 2 percent inflation target as the economy digested sterling's sharp fall since June's Brexit vote, he said.

Carney also said he would not consider a further extension of his time in charge of the British central bank, which is now due to end in June 2019.

“I will leave June 30, 2019,” Carney said in response to a question during a regular meeting with lawmakers in parliament.
The Canadian said on Oct. 31 that he will stay in his job for an extra year, on top of the five he originally planned to stay in London, to help smooth Britain's departure from the EU, but he will depart two years short of a full term.

Carney came under heavy criticism from pro-Brexit politicians for warning before June's EU membership referendum of the economic risks of voting to leave the bloc.

Some British media have speculated that Carney might stay on beyond June 2019 if the government fails to conclude its exit from the EU by that date.

Carney said his decision to extend his time at the BoE by only one year had nothing to do with criticisms made by Prime Minister Theresa May of the “bad side effects” of low rates.

Asked about the impact of Brexit on Britain's banking sector, he said banks may start to relocate operations from Britain 18 months before it leaves the EU if a ‘hard Brexit' with poor access to EU markets looked likely.

(Additional reporting by Costas Pitas, Kate Holton, Estelle Shirbon and Adela Suliman; Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Stephen Addison and Hugh Lawson)

British government will be “unashamedly pro-business” to forge role outside the EU

 

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com – – Mon, 14 Nov, 2016) London, Uk – –

Union Jack
Mikey/flickr.com

The British government will be “unashamedly pro-business” as it seeks to forge the country's future role outside the European Union, but business must also act responsibly, Prime Minister Theresa May will say on Monday.

In a speech at Mansion House in the City of London financial district, May will say Britain must be the strongest advocate for free trade, but also manage the forces of globalisation so that everyone benefits from them.

Discontent among those seen as “left behind” by globalisation was considered a key driver of Britain's June 23 vote to leave the European Union.

“The government I lead is unequivocally and unashamedly pro-business … We will do everything we can to make the UK outside the EU the most attractive place for businesses to invest and grow,” May will say, according to extracts of the speech released in advance by her office.

“But in return, it is right to ask business to play its part in ensuring we build a country that works for everyone. And that British business, which is so often on the frontline of our engagement with the world … is seen not just to do business but to do that business in the right way.”

May will say that while businesses play a key role in creating jobs, generating wealth and supporting the economy, Britain must also recognise that the reputation of business can be undermined by those who “appear to game the system and work to a different set of rules”.

The government is due to put forward proposals later this year aimed at improving corporate behaviour, including tackling excessive executive pay. May has also previously talked about the responsibility of companies to pay their taxes.

The government will seek to use its new industrial strategy to help ensure that families and communities who may lose out from global trade can actually benefit from it, May will say.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

The Pound has climbed to it best week in Aftermath of U.S. Election

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bloomberg.com – – Fri, 11 Nov, 2016) London, Uk – –

Images Money/flickr.com
Images Money/flickr.com

Investors’ concern about political shifts outside Britain is benefiting the pound.

Sterling has climbed against all of its 31 major peers since last Friday. It’s the surprise winner during the week of Donald Trump’s electoral upset in the U.S. that threw markets into turmoil as traders reappraised populist movements and inflation. The pound’s recent surge marks a reversal from last month, when it was the worst performer, trailing behind 150 peers.
As Britain’s currency heads for its best week in more than seven years versus the euro, investors are cooling on the shared currency before votes that may demonstrate the strength of anti-establishment movements in the region, particularly Italy’s constitutional referendum.

“It’s very much about risk elsewhere: We have the Italian referendum in early December, we have very important elections in Germany and France,” said Niels Christensen, chief currency strategist at Nordea Bank AB in Copenhagen. “Maybe approaching the U.S. election, some people kept their long euro-sterling positions, and now we see this positioning being closed down,” he said, referring to wagers that the euro strengthens versus the pound.

Sterling climbed 0.8 percent to $1.2660 as of 10:15 a.m. in London and was headed for its second week of gains versus the greenback. It strengthened 1.2 percent to 85.77 pence per euro, set for a 3.8 percent increase against the single currency in the week, the biggest since January 2009.
Less Bearish

Traders reduced their short bets against the pound as they wait for a Supreme Court hearing scheduled for Dec. 5-8 that potentially may result in a ruling that delays Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Short-pound positions versus the dollar, or bets that the U.K. currency will fall, receded this month, after reaching a record-high level in October, according to Commodity Futures Trading Commission data from the week ended Nov. 1.

The pound completed its best week against the dollar since 2009 on Nov. 4, amid speculation Brexit will be delayed or watered down after a court ruled the government can’t start the process of leaving the EU without a vote from lawmakers. The currency is still down about 15 percent since the June 23 referendum.

“There is just a bigger theme now and we just don’t have a trigger for more pound downside here,” said Manuel Oliveri, a currency strategist at Credit Agricole SA’s corporate- and investment-banking unit in London. “Hard-Brexit fears were falling already, and you have a market that is positioned one-sided. When there’s no more impulse, these positions get taken off at some point.”

By Marianna Duarte De Aragao

 

Businesses in London proposed granting visas to EU Nationals to Avoid Brexit Skills Shortage

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bloomberg.com – – Fri, 11 Nov, 2016) London, Uk – –

Visa
Chris Fleming/flickr.com

Businesses have proposed granting visas to European Union nationals in the London metropolitan area to prevent any migration curbs after the Brexit vote leading to a shortage of workers.

The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry said Thursday that about 25 percent of London’s workforce is foreign, while EU nationals account for a huge proportion of workers in industries including finance, construction and hospitality. If they suddenly needed work visas under current immigration rules, London would lose 160,000 workers and face a 7 billion-pound ($8.7 billion) negative economic impact, the LCCI said, citing a report by the Centre for Economic and Business Research.

The call follows a PricewaterhouseCoopers study last month that said the U.K. should adopt a regional visa system to allow it to deal with staffing needs once it leaves the EU. That report was commissioned by City of London Corp., which oversees the financial district. London Mayor Sadiq Khan has also called for a visa system for the British capital.

London voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU, and Khan has said that, as much as he “might like the idea of a London city state,” he was “not planning to blockade” it. He is lobbying Prime Minister Theresa May for increased autonomy and access to talent.

The Brexit vote, and indications the government may prioritize controlling immigration, has exacerbated existing concerns about staff shortages. According to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, the supply of workers has been declining for more than three years.

“In the approaching post-Brexit scenario, for London to remain competitive, we need to not only recruit the very best but also to be able to identify where we have skills shortages and act,” said LCCI Chief Executive Colin Stanbridge.

The lobby wants a one-off, single-issue London Work Visa granting current EU nationals indefinite leave to remain. It said the government could decide eligibility — such as employment in London on the June referendum day or the triggering of Article 50 — to mitigate against a sudden influx of new arrivals.

By Fergal O'Brien

After Brexit vote UK construction output weakest in four years in third quarter

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com – – Fri, 11 Nov, 2016) London, UK – –

Construction
Omar Bárcena/flickr.com

Britain's construction industry had its weakest performance in four years in the first three months after June's vote to leave the European Union, official figures showed on Friday.

Construction volumes fell by 1.1 percent in the third quarter as large falls in repairs were only partly offset by small rises in infrastructure and public building work, the Office for National Statistics said.

However, the fall was less severe than an estimated decline of 1.4 percent which was included in a preliminary reading of overall British gross domestic product for the quarter announced last month.

“Construction output has remained broadly flat in the last year, both before and after the recent referendum,” ONS statistician Kate Davies said.

After rising steadily between 2012 and 2014, output in the sector has largely flat-lined since then.

British finance minister Philip Hammond is expected to announce an increase in public spending on infrastructure projects on Nov. 23 when he is due to give the country's first budget statement since the Brexit vote.

In September alone, volumes were up by a monthly 0.3 percent after a 1.1 percent drop in August. A Reuters poll of economists had produced a median forecast for a fall of 0.2 percent.

Compared with a year earlier, volumes in September were up by 0.2 percent, slowing from an increase of 0.8 percent in August, the ONS said. Economists in the Reuters poll had expected an annual fall of 0.4 percent.

Friday's figures came after a weak reading of industrial production in September earlier this week. But the ONS said it did not plan to revise its estimate for overall economic growth in the third quarter – which came in stronger than expected at 0.5 percent – after the two reports.

Britain's construction industry makes up about 6 percent of the economy.

A closely watched survey of purchasing managers in the sector has shown a more upbeat picture of construction than the official data.

Britain's economy has so far largely coped with the initial shock of the vote to leave the EU and last week the Bank of England said it expected a much softer hit to construction output this year and in 2017 than it previously thought.

Britain's government launched a 5 billion-pound homebuilding stimulus package last month, its latest attempt to address a chronic housing shortage which has helped to push up prices.

(Reporting by William Schomberg and Andy Bruce)

Trump-led America could undermine the prospects of a planned transatlantic free trade agreement

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com – – Wed, 9 Nov, 2016) London, UK – –

 

EU Trade Deal
Gage Skidmore/flickr.com

A protectionist U.S. president and increased European suspicion of a Trump-led America undermine the prospects of a planned transatlantic free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States.

 Trump has argued that international trade deals hurt U.S. workers and the country's competitiveness, but it is not clear to what extent Trump the president will resemble Trump the campaigner.

“If the world's biggest economy follows a protectionist course, its effects will be felt around the world. We can only hope that his words are not followed by corresponding deeds,” said Thilo Brodtmann, head of Germany's VDMA engineering association.

EU and U.S. officials have for more than three years been negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), with Brussels and Washington recognising it will not now be completed under Barack Obama's term as earlier envisaged.

EU trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom said it was too early to assess the impact of Trump's victory, but a break was inevitable whoever had won.

“How long will that break be? Impossible to say … There's a lot of uncertainty,” she said.

Anthony Gardner, U.S. ambassador to the EU, told Reuters TTIP remained important for economic and strategic reasons, recognising that the challenge was to convince more people that free trade is an opportunity, not a risk.

Malmstrom has previously said both sides should make as much progress as possible so that the work can be quickly picked up under the next president.

However, it appears unlikely that trade will be high on Trump's list of priorities or that TTIP will be top of his trade agenda.

Trump has instead talked about getting tough with China, withdrawing from the unfinalised 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and renegotiating or scrapping the North American Free Trade Agreement.

European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen noted that Trump had at least not singled out TTIP for criticism.

Hosuk-Lee Makiyama, director of trade think-tank ECIPE, said U.S. presidents typically took some time to forge trade policy and in the case of Obama and George W. Bush only really pushed trade policy deep into their second terms.

“TTIP is probably one of the last agenda items and I don't think we will see a trade policy until year two or year three,” he said.

Trump will likely appoint a trade representative in March or April. His choice could be key, with possible appointees ranging from the protectionist Dan DiMicco, former CEO of steelmaker Nucor Corp (NUE.N), to libertarian PayPal (PYPL.O) founder Peter Thiel.

A further problem TTIP has faced is opposition from trade unions and environmental and other protest groups, particularly in Europe, who say TTIP undermines democracy by giving multinationals the power to dictate public policy.

Critics would have an added argument in their fight against TTIP, able to paint the deal as one with a bogeyman president.

“Opposition to TTIP is strong, particularly in the light of the results of the election last night,” Jeffrey Franks, director of the IMF's Europe office, told a trade conference.

(Additional reporting by Alastair Macdonald in Brussels, Georgina Prodhan in Frankfurt; editing by Giles Elgood)

By Philip Blenkinsop

Meaning of Court Ruling on Brexit

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bloomberg.com – – Sat, 5 Nov, 2016) London, Uk – –

 George Magnus, UBS senior independent economic adviser, discusses the implications of a U.K. court ruling that prevents Prime Minister Theresa May from unilaterally beginning Britain's exit process from the EU. He speaks with Bloomberg's Joe Weisenthal and Scarlet Fu on “What'd You Miss?”

British electorate would now vote narrowly to stay in the EU – BMG poll

qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com – – Fri, 4 Nov, 2016) London, UK – –

Union Jack
Mikey/flickr.com

The British electorate would now vote narrowly to stay in the European Union, according to a BMG poll published on Thursday.

The United Kingdom voted 51.9 percent to leave the bloc in a June 23 referendum while 48.1 percent voted to remain.

A poll by BMG Research, showed that when asked if the United Kingdom should stay or go, 45 percent opted to remain, 43 opted to leave and 12 percent did not know.

“Rather than people switching to Remain, it looks as if people are now less decisive about whether it was the right decision to leave,” Michael Turner, head of research at BMG, told Reuters.

Excluding “don't knows” puts Remain on 51 percent and Leave on 49 percent, according to the poll.

The fieldwork was conducted Oct. 19-24 among 1,546 adult UK residents.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Stephen Addison)

High court rules Theresa May must put vote to Parliament in order to Implement Brexit

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.finance.yahoo.com via news.sky.com – – Thu, 3 Nov, 2016) London, Uk – –

Brexit talks
Number 10/flickr.com

 

Theresa May cannot trigger Brexit without putting it to an MPs' vote in the House of Commons, the High Court has ruled.

In a landmark ruling, Lord Chief Justice Thomas said Mrs May did not have the right to set in motion Article 50, the official start of the two-year EU divorce proceedings, without consulting parliament.

The decision is a significant setback for the Prime Minister's Brexit strategy – she announced at the Conservative Party Conference last month she would trigger Article 50 by the end of March.

The Government instantly announced it would appeal the decision and the two sides will now prepare for another showdown at the Supreme Court in early December.

Speaking outside the court, businesswoman Gina Miller, who brought the case with hairdresser Deir Dos Santos, welcomed the decision and said it would “bring sobriety” to Brexit proceedings.

In a statement from Mr Dos Santos, who voted to leave the EU, he said: “In her speech to the Conservative Party Conference the Prime Minister attacked me for bringing these proceedings as a claimant. She (Munich: SOQ.MU – news) said that I was trying to subvert democracy. That was an unwarranted and irresponsible attack.

“As is my constitutional right I sought the protection of the court to stop unlawful government action. The court has now given me that protection.”

The ruling saw the pound up more than 1% against the dollar, at $1.24, in the immediate wake of the High Court announcement.

Unless the decision is overturned by the Supreme Court, or on further appeal to the European Court of Justice, then it will be for MPs to decide

when to start the UK's exit from the European Union.
While many may be reluctant to overturn the public's decision, there will be a number in constituencies where people voted Remain who will come under pressure from their voters.

Speaking in the House of Commons moments after the ruling, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said: “The Government is disappointed by the court's judgment.

“The country voted to leave the European Union in a referendum approved by Acts of Parliament. The Government is determined to respect the result of the referendum.

“This judgment raises important and complex matters of law and it's right that we consider it carefully before deciding how to proceed.”
Opposition leaders Nicola Sturgeon, Tim Farron and Jeremy Corbyn, who have been calling for Mrs May to lay out her Brexit strategy more clearly, welcomed the ruling.

The Labour leader said: “This ruling underlines the need for the Government to bring its negotiating terms to Parliament without delay.

“Labour respects the decision of the British people to leave the European Union. But there must be transparency and accountability to parliament on the terms of Brexit.”

UKIP leader Nigel Farage said: “I now fear that every attempt will be made to block or delay the triggering of Article 50. If this is so, they have no idea of the level of public anger they will provoke.”

The case has centred around the wording of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which says member states may leave the EU “in accordance with its own constitutional requirements”.

However, there is no clearly established “constitutional requirements” leaving both sides free to make their own definitions.

Making his judgment, the Lord Chief Justice said: “The Government does not have power under the Crown's prerogative to give notice pursuant to Article 50 for the UK for the UK to withdraw from the European Union.”
More follows…

Theresa May warned by Irish counterpart Brexit talks may prove Vicious

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bloomberg.com – – Tue, 02 Nov, 2016) London, Uk – –

Brexit talks
Number 10/flickr.com

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May was warned by her Irish counterpart that the upcoming Brexit talks may prove “quite vicious” as a panel of judges prepared to rule on whether she alone can begin those negotiations.

“There are those around the European table who take a very poor view” of the fact that the U.K. decided to leave, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny told a forum in Dublin on Wednesday. The argument will be fought “very toughly,” he said, adding that May could start the process earlier than the end of March.

May reiterated in Parliament in London on Wednesday that she’s seeking the best possible deal for the British economy when it splits with the European Union as she prepares to start the two-year withdrawal process early in 2017.

Whether she can trigger the talks unilaterally without the backing of Parliament is the subject of a legal challenge, which three London judges said they will rule on at 10 a.m. on Thursday. The losing side is likely to begin an appeal to be heard at the Supreme Court in December.
Investors have looked to the lawsuit to delay the process of leaving amid concerns that, by prioritizing immigration controls over safeguards for trade and banking, May favors a “hard Brexit” that will cost her country membership of the tariff-free EU single market.

No ‘Cherry-Picking’
European governments have united in saying the U.K. can’t stay in the market and crack down on immigration. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said again Wednesday that the negotiations must respect the EU’s values, such as free movement of labor.

“Our relations to the U.K. must remain positive and friendly and frictional losses for the economy must be minimized,” Merkel said. “But on the other hand, the 27 member states must stand together and not set standards that would lead to cherry-picking according to whatever they need.”

Her government’s council of economic advisers called Wednesday for “constructive negotiations” to keep Britain in the EU.

“There is still a chance to prevent an exit through constructive negotiations or at least to negotiate a succession agreement which minimizes the damage for both sides,” the council said.
Cypriot Finance Minister Harris Georgiades said in an interview that his country also wants to keep ties between the EU and Britain as close as possible.

Cyprus, a former British colony, “is keen to participate in the negotiating process to ensure that the relationship between the EU and the U.K. is as strong as possible after Brexit,” Georgiades said in Nicosia.
‘Benefit Electorally’

May could be angling for a rupture with the EU for domestic electoral purposes, academics including Anand Menon, professor of European politics at King’s College London, wrote in a report published Wednesday.

“Theresa May and her political strategists have made a calculation that they can benefit electorally from a hard Brexit,” said Menon. “The government is formulating a combination of seemingly left-wing economic policies — industrial strategy, interventionism and investment — with a right-wing approach to things like migration and social affairs.”
Moody’s Investors Service said it would cut the U.K.’s credit rating if the government failed to secure continued access to the core of the single market.

Pub Threat
JD Wetherspoon Plc Chairman Tim Martin, one of Britain’s few pro-Brexit executives, said EU politicians should nevertheless be wary of “bullying” Britain, arguing that could mean his pubs end up selling less French champagne, German beer and other drinks from European producers.

“The ultimate sanction will be in the hands of U.K. consumers, should they take offense at the hectoring and bullying approach,” Martin said.
By contrast, London Stock Exchange Group Plc Chief Executive Officer Xavier Rolet said finance executives are not being alarmist when they threaten to move jobs and operations elsewhere in Europe. He stood by an estimate that Brexit could cost 100,000 jobs in London’s derivatives business.

“That whole engine is at risk,” Rolet said. “These are real numbers, they are not calibrated to create either a conservative approach or an alarmist approach.”

Former Chancellor of Exchequer Alistair Darling also advised May not to favor different industries in the divorce, almost a week after she secured continued investment in the U.K. from Nissan Motor Co.

“You can’t possibly segregate bits of the British economy and say that one matters today, that one can wait for a couple of years” Darling said in a Bloomberg Television interview with Tom Keene.

By Dara Doyle and Patrick Gower

Growth in Britain’s construction industry hit a seven-month high in October – PMI

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com – – Tue, 02 Nov, 2016) London, UK – –

Construction
Omar Bárcena/flickr.com

Growth in Britain's construction industry hit a seven-month high in October as housebuilding rose, but slowing order books and soaring prices for building materials darkened the outlook, a survey showed on Wednesday.

The Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers' Index(PMI) rose unexpectedly to 52.6 from 52.3, confounding a Reuters poll forecast for a drop to 51.8. Sterling and government bonds showed little reaction to the figures.

While the survey chimed with signs the economy has maintained momentum since June's Brexit vote, weakening growth in new orders and rocketing costs suggested next year will prove more difficult.

“The downturn in the construction sector continued to ease in October, but it would be premature to conclude that the sector is back on a recovery path,” said Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

Survey compiler IHS Markit said respondents held back investment spending because of uncertainty surrounding Britain's exit from the European Union.

Britain's second-biggest housebuilder Persimmon cited this uncertainty on Wednesday as it said it would slow the pace of new land purchases, despite sales rising almost a fifth since the Brexit vote.

The PMI showed business expectations for the year ahead cooled markedly, while prices paid by construction firms for raw materials and goods rose at the second-fastest pace since 2011.

“We expect input prices to rise significantly in 2017 which will put financial pressure on an industry just about managing on squeezed margins and fixed-price contracts,” said Paul Trigg, construction specialist at trade credit provider Euler Hermes.

A Markit/CIPS survey of manufacturers on Monday also showed rocketing input prices, describing the inflationary impact of weaker sterling as increasingly evident.

The fall in sterling is expected to push the Bank of England to raise its inflation forecasts on Thursday to show a bigger overshoot of its price target than at any time since it gained independence in 1997.

The BoE is widely expected to hold off from a fresh interest rate cut on Thursday.

Housebuilding drove the bulk of construction activity, with the commercial and civil engineering sectors broadly stagnant, the PMI showed.

Mortgage lender Nationwide reported unchanged house prices in October after rising in monthly terms in each of the previous 15 months, a new sign of the market cooling after the Brexit vote.

Preliminary official data for the third quarter suggested construction output contracted 1.4 percent, despite stronger-than-expected economic growth of 0.5 percent for the period.

(Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by Catherine Evans and Richard Balmforth)

Chancellor Philip Hammond sets out the government’s Cyber-Security Strategy

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bloomberg.com – – Tue, 1 Nov, 2016) London, Uk – –

Cyber security
UK in Spain/flickr.com

Businesses and homes are increasingly vulnerable to cyber attacks as people install Internet-connected appliances and companies rely on outdated systems, U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond warned.

Hammond used a speech in London Tuesday to set out the British government’s Cyber-Security Strategy, pledging to “strike back” against malicious activity. It came as the U.K.’s spy chief warned Russia is using the same online tools to target Britain. In an interview with the Guardian newspaper, MI5 Director General Andrew Parker said Russia is an increasing threat to the U.K. and is employing cyber attacks to threaten its industry, economy and military capability.

Russia “is using its whole range of state organs and powers to push its foreign policy abroad in increasingly aggressive ways — involving propaganda, espionage, subversion and cyber-attacks,” Parker told the Guardian. “Russia is at work across Europe and in the U.K. today. It is MI5’s job to get in the way of that.”

Parker’s claims were dismissed by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who said they had no bearing in reality.
‘Activist’ Approach

Parker said his interview, the first given by the service’s chief in its 107-year history, reflects the need for the public to understand the interventions required to keep them safe. That point was taken up Hammond, who pledged to boost law-enforcement capabilities and encourage universities to conduct research into security as part of a more “activist” approach.

“Britain is already an acknowledged global leader in cyber security,” Hammond said in a statement before the speech. “Our new strategy, underpinned by 1.9 billion pounds ($2.3 billion) of support over five years and excellent partnerships with industry and academia, will allow us to take even greater steps to defend ourselves in cyberspace and to strike back when we are attacked.”

Britain has identified cyber attacks as a “tier one” national-security risk, alongside terrorism and global instability. To fight the threat, a National Cyber Security Center is due to have a full staff of 700 in its new London headquarters next year. The government is also seeking to push through a bill before Parliament to preserve and extend the powers of security and law-enforcement agencies, allowing them to gain access to communications.

The bill is a proportionate response to the threat to the U.K. and effectively balances privacy and security, Parker told the Guardian.

By Robert Hutton and Thomas Penny

National Audit Office Say Britain Must Identify Best Ways of Taxing The Wealthiest

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bloomberg.com – – Tue, 1 Nov, 2016) London, Uk – –

Wealthy homes
jan buchholtz/flickr.com

A unit set up to claim unpaid tax from the richest people in Britain raised 416 million pounds ($510 million) in the past financial year but must do more to improve its enforcement activities, the National Audit Office said.

By concentrating on the 6,500 taxpayers with assets of more than 20 million pounds, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs High Net Worth Unit exceeded its 2015-16 target of 250 million pounds, the NAO said in a report published in London on Tuesday. To raise more revenue, it must identify what techniques have worked best since it was set up in 2009, the spending watchdog said.

“The tax affairs of the wealthiest in society are complex, making it harder for HMRC to ensure that they are paying the right amount of tax,” NAO head Amyas Morse said in an e-mailed statement. “While the yields from HMRC’s work in this area have increased, it needs to evaluate what approaches are the most effective.”

Individuals with wealth of more than 20 million pounds contributed 4.3 billion pounds in tax in 2014-15 and formal investigations are being carried out into the liabilities of more than 2,000 of them, the NAO said. An initial estimate suggests 1.9 billion pounds in unpaid tax over a number of years may be due as a result of the probes, of which avoidance schemes account for 1.1 billion pounds.
The definition of “high net worth” has been extended to include people with assets of more than 10 million pounds for the financial year that started in April, extending the reach of the unit, which has a staff of 380, to include a further 1,000 taxpayers, the NAO said.

In a move uncommon elsewhere in the world, the U.K. assigns one of 40 “customer relationship managers” to each wealthy individual and they “are responsible for understanding the risks and behaviors of the people assigned to them,” usually through working with their representatives, the audit office said.

By Thomas Penny

Pound is the world’s worst-performing currency for this October 2016

 

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bloomberg.com – – Mon, 31 Oct, 2016) London, UK – –

The pound is the world’s worst-performing currency this month, trailing behind about 150 peers, as the first signs of how Brexit will look emerged in October.

 

Pound coins
Images Money/www.flickr.com

Sterling posted its biggest monthly decline versus the dollar since the U.K. voted in June to leave the European Union amid speculation that the government is headed for a so-called hard Brexit, where unfettered access to Europe’s single market is sacrificed for immigration controls. The pound dropped after political headlines and comments from lawmakers and central-bank officials underlined its vulnerability as concern about Britain’s exit from the world’s largest trading bloc intensified.

 

“This month has all been about hard Brexit concerns coming to the forefront,” said Viraj Patel, a foreign-exchange strategist at ING Groep NV in London. “It’s typical for a currency trading under heightened political uncertainty to be vulnerable to new news, either good or bad, and this will be an ongoing factor until we get clarity” over the nation’s future relationship with the EU, he said.

The pound was little changed at $1.2199 as of 4 p.m. London time, leaving its decline this month at 5.9 percent, the most since June, when it plunged 8.1 percent. Sterling has fallen every month since April, cementing its position as the worst-performing major currency this year, having weakened more than 17 percent.

The Bank of England is due to make its interest-rate decision and publish its quarterly inflation report on Thursday amid speculation that Governor Mark Carney may announce a decision on his future at the central bank. Speaking to a House of Lords committee last week, Carney deflected questions on whether he plans to serve a full eight-year term as governor through to 2021, or leave in 2018 as he originally planned.

Swaps signal about a 3 percent probability of a rate cut when the central bank announces its policy decision on Nov. 3. The inflation report follows data last week that showed U.K. growth slowed less in the three months through September than analysts predicted, the first quarterly figures since the June vote to leave the EU.

By Marianna Duarte De Aragao