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

Hitachi invests millions of dollars in robots meant to help Japan’s aging citizens

 

Bloomberg's Hello World host Ashlee Vance visited Japanese technology giant Hitachi. The tech conglomerate has invested millions of dollars to invent all manner of robots meant to help Japan’s aging citizens in the years ahead.

 

Nissan to build more cars in the UK, tempering Brexit fears

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com – – Thur, 27 Oct, 2016) London, UK – –

Britain's economy slowed only slightly in the three months after the Brexit vote and carmaker Nissan said it would build more cars in the country, tempering fears about the immediate economic impact of the decision to leave the European Union.

The stronger-than-expected growth figures published on Thursday further diminished the likelihood of the Bank of England cutting rates as soon as next week, prompting investors to sell British government bonds.

But finance minister Philip Hammond sounded cautious, saying he still planned to provide support for the economy as Britain launches tough negotiations with the EU next year.

“I think it is right that we still prepare to support the economy during the coming period to make sure that we get through this period of uncertainty,” said Hammond, who is due to announce his first budget plans next month.

Official data showed the economy grew by 0.5 percent between July and September, less rapid than the strong growth of 0.7 percent seen in the second quarter but comfortably above a median forecast of 0.3 percent in a Reuters poll of economists.

Sterling jumped to a one-week high against the U.S. dollar after the data and the yield on 10-year government bonds hit its highest level since the European Union membership referendum.

Marc Ostwald, a strategist at ADM Investor Services, said the GDP data killed the chance of a rate cut on Nov. 3 and could also prompt the Bank's most stimulus-sceptical policymaker Kristin Forbes to call for an end to its bond-buying.

Britain's dominant services industries provided all the growth, helped by a boom in the film and television sector as the latest releases in the Jason Bourne and Star Trek series hit the screens in July along with other blockbusters.

Compared with the third quarter of last year, growth picked up to 2.3 percent, the strongest pace in more than a year, according to the preliminary figures from the ONS.

“COME CLEAN”

Brexit supporters said the figures backed their argument that warnings of a big hit to the economy from a Leave vote were little more than scaremongering.

Economists for Brexit, a group who disagree with the majority view in their profession that leaving the EU is damaging, said Britain's finance ministry “must now come clean” and admit that its long-term forecasting was likely to be wrong, just as its short-term forecasts were.

But many economists are still warning that the real challenge is yet to come.

“The adverse consequences of the Brexit vote will become increasingly clear as inflation shoots up and firms postpone investment over the coming quarters,” said Samuel Tombs of Pantheon Macroeconomics, who correctly predicted the quarterly growth rate in the Reuters poll.

The sharp fall in the value of the pound since June is expected to push inflation to around 3 percent next year. BoE Governor Mark Carney this week noted the “fairly substantial” fall in sterling, in a sign that the Bank was no longer expecting to cut rates on Nov. 3.

Many companies are expected to put investment plans on hold pending the outcome of the two-year process of negotiating Britain's exit from the EU and a possibly longer period for securing the terms of its new relationship with the bloc.

But Japanese carmaker Nissan gave Prime Minister Theresa May a boost by saying it will build its new Qashqai model in Britain. A source said on Thursday the government had offered support to counter any damage from leaving the EU.

The new investment in manufacturing came as the ONS data showed how reliant Britain has become on its services sector, which grew by 0.8 percent from the April-June period.

By contrast, industrial production, including manufacturing, and construction both contracted, down 0.4 percent and 1.4 percent respectively. The fall in construction was the biggest since the third quarter of 2012.

By William Schomberg and Costas Pitas

(Additional reporting by David Milliken and Estelle Shirbon; editing by Andrew Roche)

Unseasonably warm weather boosts British autumn retail sales

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com – – Thur, 27 Oct, 2016) London, UK – –

Oct 27 British retail sales rebounded in October to grow at their fastest rate in over a year, after an end to unseasonably warm weather boosted demand for autumn clothing, an industry survey showed on Thursday.

The Confederation of British Industry's retail sales balance

surged to +21 from September's reading of -8, far outstripping economists' forecasts of a pick-up to -2.

The expected sales balance for November also rose sharply to +21 from +7, a level last seen in December, and orders placed with suppliers were the strongest since March, though they are expected to dip in November.

September had brought warmer than usual weather, denting demand for new season clothes, but early October saw a return to more normal seasonal trends, the CBI said.

“With our Indian Summer now a distant memory, shoppers have been pounding the high street, with sales of clothing and other retailers outpacing expectations,” CBI chief economist Rain Newton-Smith said.

The figures follow official GDP data earlier on Thursday which showed the economy as a whole grew 0.5 percent in the three months to September, in contrast to forecasts for a steep slowdown after Britain voted to leave the European Union.

But the CBI warned that the slide in the pound since Britain voted to leave the EU was likely to push up prices next year, hurting sales.

“Household spending still has some momentum in the short-term, but we do expect the fall in the value of the pound to push up prices through the course of next year, hitting people's purchasing power,” Newton-Smith said.

ALSO IN BUSINESS NEWS

Official data last week showed British retail sales recorded their strongest quarter of growth since late 2014 in the three months to September, but warm weather and higher prices dented demand for new clothing towards the end of the period.

 By David Milliken

UK businesses planning to take on more permanent staff

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.finance.yahoo.com via International Business Times – – Wed, 26 Oct, 2016) London, Uk – –

Nearly one in four UK businesses say they are planning to take on more permanent staff over the next three months, despite confidence falling in the wake of the Brexit vote.

A survey of 600 employers by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) also showed that four out of five firms are planning to maintain or increase their use of agency workers in the run up to Christmas.

However, there was a marked regional variance in temporary hiring intentions, with 77% of firms in the South East, including London, expecting to increase or hold their temporary staff, while the figure was 98% in the North.

The survey also revealed that smaller businesses are more likely to take on more staff than large firms.

REC chief executive Kevin Green said: “The latest official figures show that employment remains at a record high. Our data suggests that this positive trend is set to continue, with employers actively looking to take on more staff in the last quarter of the year.

“Small businesses in particular are performing well and are seeking to grow. Strong consumer spending over the last few months has been a boon to the UK economy,” Green said.

A quarter of employers surveyed between July and September thought that economic conditions were improving, down from 48% before in the March to May period.

“There are signs that business confidence in the economy is slipping. Whilst it is still too soon to draw conclusions about the impact of the decision to leave the EU, the data suggests that London is feeling the brunt of the referendum result,” Green added.

“Businesses in the financial sector in particular are looking at the political and economic environment with some trepidation.”

The REC survey also revealed that employers anticipated a shortage of candidates for permanent and temporary jobs in engineering, technology, construction and health.

By Karthick Arvinth

Government gives greenlight to third runway at Heathrow

(qlmbusinessnews.com via new.sky.com – – Tue, 25 Oct, 2016) London, UK – –

Virgin's founder is among business leaders wanting ‘shovels in the ground' as Heathrow nears full clearance for a third runway.

Sir Richard Branson has been among business leaders giving a warm welcome to the Government's support for a third runway at Heathrow.

The Virgin Group's founder told Sky News he wanted to congratulate the Government for taking the “tough” decision – arguing it would boost competition among airlines and create “hundreds of thousands of jobs”.

He added that the move would prove a rebalancing for the UK economy after the country voted to leave the EU – a prospect he opposed.

Analysis by the Airports Commission estimated that the airport's expansion will create up to 180,000 jobs and provide £211bn in economic benefits and growth across the UK by 2050.

The director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, Adam Marshall. said the businesses will now want assurances from Westminster that construction can begin as soon as possible.

“Put simply, it's about time,” he said of the decision.

“This new runway must be viewed as much about connecting the regions and nations to the world as it is about capacity for London and the South East,” he added.

Heathrow Airport expansion: Now comes the hard part

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), welcomed the decision as “a welcome boost for British business.”

“We now need to see budgets committed and shovels in the ground as soon as possible,” he added.

Heathrow Airport expansion: Now comes the hard part

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), welcomed the decision as “a welcome boost for British business.”

“We now need to see budgets committed and shovels in the ground as soon as possible,” he added.

The general secretary of the TUC, Frances O'Grady, has echoed this sentiment, calling on the Government to “ensure Heathrow expansion is put in the fast lane”.

Mick Rix, national officer for transport and distribution at GMB, the union that represents airport workers, said the decision is a “win, win for everyone”.

He added that the union has supported a third runway at the airport for the best part of a decade and that expansion has a “clear-cut case”.

But no frills carrier Ryanair, which has long campaigned for more competition and choice between runways, criticised the decision to approve just a third runway at Heathrow.

“Approving a third runway at Heathrow over Gatwick is not the way forward,” said Ryanair's CEO Michael O'Leary.

“London now benefits from three competing airports and the best way to deliver additional runways in a timely and cost efficient manner is to approve three additional runways, one each at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.”

International Airlines Group (IAG) CEO Willie Walsh warned: “We're pleased that a decision has finally been made but the cost of this project will make or break it.

“The Government's directive to cap customer charges at today's level is fundamental.

“Heathrow is the world's most expensive hub airport so it's critical that new capacity is affordable. The airport has consistently argued that the British economy will benefit if the third runway is approved.

“Heathrow want it, argued for it and now must ensure it's the UK and the travelling public who get the benefits from the runway, not the airport's owners.”

Uk banks prepare to leave in early 2017 over Brexit fears – Observer

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com via observer – – Sun, 23 Oct, 2016) London, UK – –

British banks
www.flickr.com/photos,:
London's financial district by Michael Duxbury

Britain's biggest banks are preparing to move out of the country in early 2017 because of fears over the impending Brexit negotiations, while smaller banks are making plans to leave before Christmas, the chief executive of the British Bankers' Association Anthony Browne said.

“The public and political debate at the moment is taking us in the wrong direction,” the Observer Sunday newspaper quoted Browne as saying in an interview.

The paper released a short extract on Saturday evening but no further comments by Browne from the interview were immediately available.

Banks in Britain depend on a European “passport” to serve clients across the 28-country European Union from one base and lenders worry that this right will end after Britain leaves the EU.

Banks have already said they are making contingency plans to move some of their operations to continental Europe if Britain does not negotiate access to the EU single market after Brexit.

Prime Minister Theresa May has said she will trigger formal talks to leave the EU by the end of March 2017 after Britain voted to leave in a referendum last June.

She has said she will fight to retain access to the single market but several EU leaders have insisted that will depend on Britain accepting free movement of workers from the EU – a condition Britain has vowed to curtail.

(Reporting by Stephen Addison; editing by Andrew Roche and Grant McCool)

European Union and Canada hold emergency talks to rescue trade deal

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.businessinsider.com – – Sat, 22 Oct, 2016) London, UK – –

Emergency talks have taken place between the European Union and Canada in a last-ditch attempt to save a historic free-trade deal which has been over seven years in the making.

As Business Insider reported, CETA, a proposed free trade deal between Canada and the 28-nation bloc, was on the verge of collapsing on Friday afternoon after the Belgian region of Wallonia used its federal powers to block it.

European Parliament head Martin Schulz and Canadian Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland have held emergency talks with Wallonian parliament leader Paul Magnette, in an attempt to salvage the deal.

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels immediately after the talks, Schulz said the meeting had been “constructive” — but problems on the “EU side” had yet to have been resolved.

If the deal did break down it would be a hammer-blow to the EU's international reputation. Plus, it would cast serious doubt on the Union's ability to forge international trade deals with any country, including post-Brexit Britain.

Cecilia Malmstrom, the EU's trade commissioner, made this point earlier this week. If the EU “can't make it [CETA] with Canada,” the Swedish politician said, “I'm not sure we can make it with the UK.”

Donald Tusk, the European Council president, added that failure to complete the EU-Canada deal would make striking post-Brexit trade deals with Britain near-impossible.

“If you are not able to convince people that trade agreements are in their interests … we will have no chance to build public support for free trade, and I am afraid that means that CETA could be our last free-trade agreement,” he said.

Clearly, it's not just the EU's trading relationship with Canada that's on the line, but the 28-nation bloc's future trading aspirations, including hopes of striking a free-trade deal with Britain once Brexit is formally completed.

That's why Theresa May's government and Brexit negotiators in Whitehall will be keeping a very close eye on developments in Brussels as Canada and EU officials attempt to thrash out a last-minute agreement.

Wallonia, a French-speaking region of around 3.6 million people, has a deeply-rooted socialist tradition. Its legislature blocked CETA over concerns that the deal granted too much power to multinational corporations.

By Adam Payne

Major websites across the internet knocked out by massive cyber attack

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com – – Sat, 22 Oct, 2016) London, UK – –

Hackers unleashed a complex attack on the internet through common devices like webcams and digital recorders and cut access to some of the world's best known websites on Friday, a stunning breach of global internet stability.

The attacks struck Twitter, Paypal, Spotify and other customers of an infrastructure company in New Hampshire called Dyn, which acts as a switchboard for internet traffic.

The attackers used hundreds of thousands of internet-connected devices that had previously been infected with a malicious code that allowed them to cause outages that began in the Eastern United States and then spread to other parts of the country and Europe.

“The complexity of the attacks is what’s making it very challenging for us,” said Dyn’s chief strategy officer, Kyle York. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation said they were investigating.

The disruptions come at a time of unprecedented fears about the cyber threat in the United States, where hackers have breached political organizations and election agencies.

Friday's outages were intermittent and varied by geography. Users complained they could not reach dozens of internet destinations including Mashable, CNN, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Yelp and some businesses hosted by Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O).

Dyn said attacks were coming from millions of internet addresses, making it one of the largest attacks ever seen. Security experts said it was an especially potent type of distributed denial-of-service attack, or DDoS, in which attackers flood the targets with so much junk traffic that they freeze up.

VULNERABILITIES EXPLOITED

Dyn said that at least some of the malicious traffic was coming from connected devices, including webcams and digital video recorders, that had been infected with control software named Mirai. Security researchers have previously raised concerns that such connected devices, sometimes referred to as the Internet of Things, lack proper security.

The Mirai code was dumped on the internet about a month ago, and criminal groups are now charging to employ it in cyber attacks, said Allison Nixon, director of security research at Flashpoint, which was helping Dyn analyse the attack.

Dale Drew, chief security officer at communications provider Level 3, said that other networks of compromised machines were also used in Friday's attack, suggesting that the perpetrator had rented access to several so-called botnets.

The attackers took advantage of traffic-routing services such as those offered by Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) Google and Cisco Systems Inc's (CSCO.O) OpenDNS to make it difficult for Dyn to root out bad traffic without also interfering with legitimate inquiries, Drew said.

“Dyn can't simply block the (Internet Protocol) addresses they are seeing, because that would be blocking Google or OpenDNS,” said Matthew Prince, CEO of security and content delivery firm CloudFlare. “These are nasty attacks, some of the hardest to protect against.”

GOVERNMENT WARNED OF ATTACKS

Drew and Nixon both said that the makers of connected devices needed to do far more to make sure that the gadgets can be updated after security flaws are discovered.

Big businesses should also have multiple vendors for core services like routing internet traffic, and security experts said those Dyn customers with backup domain name service providers would have stayed reachable.
The Department of Homeland Security last week issued a warning about attacks from the Internet of Things, following the release of the code for Mirai.

Attacking a large domain name service provider like Dyn can create massive disruptions because such firms are responsible for forwarding large volumes of internet traffic.

Dyn said it had resolved one morning attack, which disrupted operations for about two hours, but disclosed a second a few hours later that was causing further disruptions. By Friday evening it was fighting a third.

Amazon's web services division, one of the world's biggest cloud computing companies, reported that the issue temporarily affected users in Western Europe. Twitter (TWTR.N) and some news sites could not be accessed by some users in London late on Friday evening.

PayPal Holdings Inc (PYPL.O) said that the outage prevented some customers in “certain regions” from making payments. It apologised for the inconvenience and said that its networks had not been hacked.

A month ago, security guru Bruce Schneier wrote that someone, probably a country, had been testing increasing levels of denial-of-service attacks against unnamed core internet infrastructure providers in what seemed like a test of capability.

Nixon said there was no reason to think a national government was behind Friday's assaults, but attacks carried out on a for-hire basis are famously difficult to attribute.

(Reporting by Joseph Menn in San Francisco, Jim Finkle in Boston and Dustin Volz in Washington. Additional reporting by Eric Auchard in Frankurt, Malathi Nayak in New York, Jeff Mason and Mark Hosenball in Washington, Adrian Croft and Frances Kerry in London; Editing by Bill Trott, Lisa Shumaker and Jonathan Weber)

Setback for Chancellor Philip Hammond, as UK public finances worsen

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com – – Fri, 21st Oct, 2016) London, UK – –

UK public finances
London Skyline/Megan Trace/flickr.com

Britain's public finances showed a much bigger than expected deficit in September, a setback for Chancellor Philip Hammond as he prepares to deliver the country's first budget plans since the Brexit vote.

Investors are already nervous about the prospect of an acrimonious British departure from the European Union, and Friday's figures may limit Hammond's ability to cushion the blow of the referendum result via higher spending or tax cuts.

Britain ran a budget shortfall of 10.6 billion pounds last month, 14.5 percent higher than the deficit in the same month last year, the Office for National Statistics said.

The deficit, excluding state-owned banks, was above all forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists, which had produced a median projection of an 8.5 billion-pound shortfall.

Despite falling from more than 10 percent of economic output in 2010 to 4 percent in the last financial year, Britain's deficit remains among the highest for any developed nation.

Hammond, responding to Friday's figures, reiterated his message that he will bring down the budget deficit more slowly than his predecessor George Osborne had planned.

“We remain committed to fiscal discipline and will return the budget to balance over a sensible period of time, in a way that allows us the space to support the economy as needed,” he said in a statement.

But the slow improvement of the public finances in the year to date, combined with an expected slowdown in the economy next year that will hurt tax revenues, represents a constraint for Hammond as he prepares his Nov. 23 Autumn Statement.

He has said any extra spending on infrastructure projects was likely to be modest, disappointing some economists who said he could be bolder with government borrowing costs so low.

NO SPLURGE

The weak September figures took the deficit in the first half of the financial year to 45.5 billion pounds, down nearly 5 percent from the same period in the previous year but already close to the 55.5 billion pounds forecast for the 2016/17 tax year as a whole by Britain's budget watchdog in March.

The Office for Budget Responsibility said it was clear that its March forecast was “very unlikely to be met” but said the size of the miss was likely to be reduced by one-off factors that weighed on borrowing in the first half of the year and an expected jump in income tax receipts later in the year.

The OBR said it was still too early to assess the impact of the Brexit vote on Britain's public finances.

ALSO IN BUSINESS NEWS

Samuel Tombs, an economist with Pantheon Macroeconomics, said Hammond would probably want to keep some room for a loosening of the purse strings once Britain actually leaves the EU which will probably be shortly before the next election.

“As a result, we think that the chancellor will scrap the 0.8 percent of GDP fiscal tightening planned for 2017, but will not set fiscal policy to boost growth and will ensure that the fiscal consolidation resumes thereafter,” Tombs said.

September's weak performance was partly caused by a fall in receipts from corporation tax and property transactions. Growth in value-added tax receipts was slower than earlier in the year.

It was the first fall in corporation tax revenues for the month of September since 2009, the ONS said, adding that it was unable to provide a reason for the fall.

The growth in VAT receipts was the slowest for the month of September since 2012.

By William Schomberg

Uk hit by £10 billion annual cybercrime

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.businessinsider.com – – Wed, 19 Oct, 2016) London, UK – –

The UK economy lost up to £10.9 billion as a result of online fraud and cybersecurity last year, according to new research — that's around £210 for every person over the age of 16 in the country.

The figures, from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau and crime awareness group Get Safe Online (GSO), would likely be even higher if more cybercrime was reported. 39% of those who had been victims of cybercrime in a GSO survey said that they hadn't reported the incident.
The report also highlights a worrying gap in people's understanding of what constitutes an online crime.

86% said that they had not been targeted by cyber criminals in the past 12 months. 68% of respondents, however, said they had been targeted in a variety of ways — deceptive emails, fraudulent websites, and email account hacking, all of which are common methods for online theft.
Another worrying trend is the rise of ransomware, a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid. 3% of victims in the survey had been victims of ransomware.

The research also highlighted a widespread belief that cybercrime is inevitable — 37% of those surveyed who have been a victim of cybercrime said that they felt there was “nothing that could be done” to prevent it.
Tony Neate, chief executive of GSO, said in an emailed statement: “The fact that over a third of people felt there was nothing that could have been done to stop them becoming a victim is alarming indeed – particularly when it’s so easy to protect yourself online.”

City of London Police’s commander Chris Greany said: “The huge financial loss to cybercrime hides the often harrowing human stories that destroy lives and blights every community in the UK.

“All of us need to ask ourselves are we doing everything we can to protect ourselves from online criminals. Unfortunately, people still click on links in unsolicited emails and fail to update their security software. Just as you wouldn’t leave your door unlocked, so you shouldn’t leave yourself unprotected online,” he added.

By Thomas Colson

Tenants to face rent increase as 440,000 landlords are hit by changes in tax

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.finance.yahoo.com – – Tue, 18 Oct, 2016) London, Uk – –

Thousands of tenants could face substantial rent rises next spring or even be forced to move out as sweeping tax changes hitting their landlords come into effect.

About 440,000 landlords are facing substantially higher tax bills which could see them passing on the costs to their tenants or selling up, a pressure group has warned.

The changes will mean landlords will no longer be able to deduct mortgage interest payments or any other finance-related costs from their turnover before declaring their taxable income.

The National Landlord Association says more than 400,000 landlords who currently pay basic-rate tax will immediately be hit by the changes although, potentially, the majority of Britain’s estimated 2m landlords could find their tax liability rise.

It says about a third of landlords in London and the east of England will be affected next April, with just over a quarter in the West Midlands.
Richard Lambert, chief executive officer of the NLA, said its research showed government claims the changes would only affect a small number of higher-rate taxpayers were “complete tosh”.

“The government must look to amend these tax changes and minimise the impact on landlords and their tenants – something that could easily be achieved by applying the rules to only new loans written after April 2017.
“Unless this happens, landlords will face an impossible decision of whether to increase rents and cause misery for their tenants, or to sell-up, and force their tenants to find a new home,” he added.

Warning shot: landlords face being squeezed by the taxman come next spring

The amount by which landlords will be affected will depend on their personal circumstances, including whether or not they generate income from any other sources.
Landlords’ tax liability will increase depending on their existing annual mortgage interest payments, which are broken down by portfolio size:
Single property – £3,600
2-3 properties – £8,600
4-5 properties- £16,300
5-10 properties – £18,200
11-19 properties – £24,900
20+ properties – £38,000
It has been estimated that some 7.2 million UK households will be in rented accommodation within a decade as house price inflation continues to see increasing numbers struggle to get on the property ladder.

By Mark Dorman

 

Parliament should vote on Article 50, Constitutional lawyers tell the UK High Court

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.businessinsider.com – – Mon, 17 Oct, 2016) London, UK – –

Theresa May is facing the first serious test of her authority as Prime Minister, with lawyers on Monday arguing in the High Court that she must defer to parliament on the matter of the UK leaving the European Union.

Three of the UK's most senior judges on Monday heard arguments about why members of parliament should vote on the triggering of Article 50.

Article 50 begins the official two-year process of Britain leaving the European Union and Theresa May has signalled she will trigger the article in March of next year. However, there is increasing pressure for the triggering to be put to a vote, a process that some commentators say could result in the Brexit process being watered down or even reversed.

Lawyers representing a number of claimants say it would be unlawful for May to initiate Britain's exit from the EU using “royal prerogative” — the power granted to a government to make decisions without a vote from parliament.

Speaking at the Royal Courts of Justice, Patrick Green QC, representing British expats, said it was “beyond any doubt” that existing law prevents the executive from removing treaties and domestic law without first consulting parliament. Green was referencing the European Communities Act (1972) and European Union Act (2011).

He argued that the former piece of legislation, which saw the UK concede some of its legislative power to the EU, was an example of Parliament conferring powers which “only parliament” could exercise and confer. Triggering Article 50 without first passing an Act of Parliament would require May's government to overturn a parliamentary decision without consulting parliament itself, he added.

“There can be no scope for government with a stroke of a pen claiming the power to take away treaties … remove domestic rights and reverse parliament's conferral power without parliamentary approval,” he said.

Helen Mountfield QC, representing the crowdfunded claimants group People's Challenge, told the court that triggering Article 50 without parliamentary approval would be contrary to the Scotland Act, which protects Scottish domestic law from alteration without a proper parliamentary process.

“The crown does not have the right to impose or remove rights as a matter of domestic law,” she said.

The court room was packed to watch the second day of the historic case unfold. If the judges rule in the claimants' favour, not only would it have a clear impact on how and when Britain leaves the 28-nation bloc, but would reshape the country's constitutional landscape.

The government's position was defended by Attorney General Jeremy Wright QC. Wright argued that MPs were told the government intended to use royal prerogative to trigger Article 50 after the result of a Brexit vote, and said the referendum legislation did not state that further legislation would be necessary to put the result into effect.

“As a matter of general principle, withdrawal from a treaty is a matter for the Crown … This is totally within the expectation of Parliament … Royal prerogative has not been eroded,” he said.

The attorney general accused the claimants of politicising the legal debate by wanting MPs to be “asked the same question” that was put to the public on June 23.

The case got underway on Thursday and will conclude on Tuesday, with a verdict expected in mid-November. The claimants are expected to launch an appeal to the Supreme Court if the judges rule against them.

The case is being heard against a backdrop of heated debate between Remainers who want Brexit to be subjected to tough parliamentary scrutiny, and Brexiteers who accuse Remainers of attempting to subvert the will of the British people.

Some who have attended the case have been verbally abused upon entering the court. Lord Chief Justice opened proceedings by saying this abuse was “wholly wrong” and warned those responsible would receive the “full vigour” of the law.

The case continues.

By Adam Payne

 

Nissan CEO Ghosn meets May, after Brexit ultimatum

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com – – Fri, 14 Oct, 2016) London, UK – –

Two weeks after warning that Nissan (7201.T) could halt new investment in Britain's biggest car plant due to uncertainty over Brexit, Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn met Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday.

Ghosn told reporters at the Paris motor show late last month that future spending on the north of England facility in Sunderland would depend on a guarantee of compensation if Britain's eventual deal with Europe led to tariffs on car exports.

Businesses have been concerned that Britain is headed towards a “hard Brexit”, which would leave it outside the European single market and facing tariffs of up to 10 percent on car exports.

Nissan, which built nearly one third of Britain's 1.6 million cars last year, faces a decision in early 2017 on where to build its next Qashqai sport utility vehicle, prompting Friday's visit.

“The purpose of this meeting… is to ensure both Nissan and the UK government have an aligned way forward that meets the needs of both the company and the country,” a Nissan spokesman said.

“We do not expect any specific agreement to be communicated following this initial introductory meeting of the CEO and the Prime Minister,” he added.

A spokesman for the prime minister said he would not comment on the private meeting.

Ghosn's concerns led other carmakers to warn about the consequences of a hard Brexit, favoured by some Conservatives who wish to impose limits on immigration, a key concern of many voters who backed Brexit.

The chief executive of Britain's biggest automaker Jaguar Land Rover (TAMO.NS) told Reuters that any Brexit deal would have to guarantee a “level playing field”, opening up the possibility that others too would seek financial guarantees.

In September, when asked for a response to Ghosn's comments, a spokeswoman said the government would not give a running commentary of different opinions about Brexit.

But in a speech to the Conservative Party this month, May said the government would do everything it could to encourage, develop and support strategic sectors of the economy such as car manufacturing, financial services and aerospace.

Britain's car industry was a strong supporter of continued membership of the European Union ahead of the June 23 vote, benefiting from unfettered access to the world's biggest trading bloc and its standardised regulations.

The British government has said it will listen to business concerns and protect the economy as its begins formal divorce talks from the European Union by the end of March.

(Additional reporting by Kylie Maclellan; editing by Stephen Addison)