“South West ‘could suffer more than other regions’ after Brexit”

Good luck with that doubling of productivity, Local Enterprise Partnership! (see post below)

“The South West could be hit harder than other parts of England when the UK leaves the EU, according to panel members at a one-off Brexit discussion convened by CIPFA in Bristol.

High numbers of EU workers could be lost from industries in the region, which must get better at ‘fighting its own corner’, attendees at the event on Friday last week heard.

Kate Kennally, chief executive of Cornwall Council, pointed out the South West had a growing number of tech start-ups but it was not good at promoting its own industries.

“We have a big part of the UK that doesn’t have a big voice,” she said.

She added Cornwall voted leave because of “a sense of profound insecurities about public services” and that “this could be a moment where there needs to be a good deal of bravery”.

Kennally also pointed out: “Exeter, Bristol, Plymouth are the cities most reliant on exporting to the EU.”

Nigel Costley, regional secretary of the trade union federation the TUC, said: “I don’t think we are well equipped to respond to [Brexit].

“I fear we are going to be the losers in the South West. I do not see us fighting our corner very well. …”


London: luxury apartments failing to sell

“More than half of the 1,900 ultra-luxury apartments built in London last year failed to sell, raising fears that the capital will be left with dozens of “posh ghost towers”.

The swanky flats, complete with private gyms, swimming pools and cinema rooms, are lying empty as hundreds of thousands of would-be first-time buyers struggle to find an affordable home.

The total number of unsold luxury new-build homes, which are rarely advertised at less than £1m, has now hit a record high of 3,000 units, as the rich overseas investors they were built for turn their backs on the UK due to Brexit uncertainty and the hike in stamp duty on second homes. …”


“Alienated voters ‘don’t feel Brexit will help them retake control’ over decision making”

“The vast majority of British people feel they have little if any control over decisions that affect their lives and the future of the country, a new study has found.

Voters increasingly feel decision making has been taken out of their hands and is being wielded by a remote clique of politicians at national level, it found.

The report, by one of the country’s most senior civil servants, found growing anger over the fact that people do not feel they are being listened to and that their views are frequently ignored.

Lord Kerslake cited the Grenfell fire tragedy as a damning example of what can happen when politicians ignore the demands of people on the ground.

Lord Kerslake told The Telegraph: “We are one of the most over centralised countries in Europe and there is a growing gap between those who are governed and those who govern.

“The terrible tragedy of Grenfell Tower might possibly have been avoided if one of the richest boroughs in the country had listened more to its poorest residents.

“Power can no longer be viewed as belonging to decision-makers a the centre to be ‘given away’. We must find a radical new way to involve people from every community, every street and every home across the country in the decisions that affect them.”


DUP funding to stay secret

Owl says: What a surprise! Remind me – isn’t the DUP a fundamentalist “Christian” party? Oooohhhh … wait for the fire and brimstone – not.

“Labour has criticised an attempt by the government to allow the DUP to conceal details of past political donations, including during the EU referendum, despite a 2014 law that extended party transparency rules to Northern Ireland.

The government has announced it will bring into force new transparency rules for Northern Ireland’s political parties to allow the Electoral Commission to publish details of donations over £7,500.

The provision for the new rules, which will bring Northern Ireland in line with the rest of the UK, was first introduced in legislation in 2014, with the wide understanding it would be applied from that year.

However, the Northern Ireland secretary, James Brokenshire, said he intended the act to be applied from 1 July 2017, which would mean donations during the EU referendum in 2016 are not made public.

Campaigners have raised questions over the DUP’s spending on the EU referendum in June 2016 – including a £435,000 donation from a group called the Constitutional Research Council (CRC), chaired by Richard Cook, a former vice-chairman of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist party.

The source of the cash was revealed by the DUP after a series of articles published by OpenDemocracy, though details of the CRC’s source of income are still opaque. …”



“Remember when David Davis ran out on the first round of Brexit negotiations after less than an hour? Now we know a bit about what he was doing instead.

The Brexit Secretary had declared it was “time to get down to business” ahead of the talks – but then skipped the majority of the discussions.

He turned up in Brussels at 8am on July 17, spent 15 minutes having a “friendly chat” with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier and another 45 minutes in a meeting with their respective officials.

After being photographed without any papers and a quick press conference, he was on the Eurostar back to London.

A Government spokesperson told the media at the time that Davis had planned to leave early but denied that the decision was connected to a vote in Parliament.

So what did he get up to upon his return to London? Something more useful than dealing with the nitty gritty of Brexit negotiations?

Transparency documents published by DExEU last night offer us an interesting insight.

They show that on July 18 – while talks were still ongoing in Brussels – Davis had dinner with Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre. …

The Brexit Secretary only reappeared in Brussels when talks finished on July 20 for a press conference which didn’t go well.

Davis was criticised by Barnier over a “lack of clarity” in the Government’s position over the divorce bill.

That’s unsurprising given the extraordinary but real possibility that he may well have spent more time speaking to Dacre than Barnier about Brexit that week.

And it might also explain why, 18 months after the referendum, he’s only just made “sufficient progress” in negotiations.

Proud of yourself, Davis?”


Tory Minister refuses to give straight answer when asked to confirm his name!

A Tory minister was so reluctant to give straight answers to questions this morning that he wouldn’t even answer ‘yes or no’ to confirm his own name.

Business Secretary Greg Clark was given a thorough going over by Piers Morgan on this morning’s edition of Good Morning Britain.

He was doing a round of TV studios pushing the Government’s new industrial strategy, which he is launching today. But the minister became stuck in a series of Brexit questions – and his evasive answers appeared to frustrate Morgan.

Clark refused to answer whether he would vote for Brexit if there was another referendum, saying it was a “hypothetical question that I haven’t given a moment’s thought to.”

Host Susanna Reid asked him if Brexit was the best thing for the UK, he again failed to give a straight answer, saying: “I believe that we have to get the best deal through these negotiations and I think it’s possible to do that.”

Morgan asked him if that was a ‘yes’, to which he repeated: “I think we can get a good deal. It’s in everyone’s interests to get a good deal.”

Finally, Morgan challenged the Tory minister to give a straight, yes or no answer to one question – “the allegation that you are named Greg Clark.”

After some laughter, and a long, uncomfortable pause, Clark said: “Well, I think you’ve got that.”

Morgan seemed satisfied with his answer, saying: “We’ve established at least one convincing answer.”

But Reid was left unconvinced, adding: “I’m not sure we did. I think there was room for doubt there.” …”