Analysis & Blogs
One of the general conclusions from the recent UK general election was that it had marked a dramatic return to two party politics in the UK. Voters provided the Conservatives and the Labour Party with the highest combined share of the vote since the 1970s, at over 82%, and almost 90% of the seats in Parliament. The Conservatives saw their highest vote share since 1983 at the election. Labour surged to over 40% for the first time since 1997.
The publication this week of a review into the UK’s high-cost credit market is just the latest demonstration of the UK’s financial services regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regaining its mojo for activist policymaking. The FCA has always held a formal objective of protecting consumers, but this has often had to be balanced against the economic and political interests of the financial services sector.
As part of its long-awaited clean air plan, the UK government today announced its intention to ban conventional petrol and diesel engines in new cars and vans by 2040. Arguably, they need not have bothered.
Today’s Summer Recess in Westminster marks the end of a chaotic and tumultuous parliamentary session, which has concluded in a hamstrung government and a lame-duck Prime Minister. The next session is likely to be as unpredictable, with a series of legislative compromises, and Brexit taking up the majority of Parliamentary airtime. But what exactly can we expect from the second year of May?
The UK debate about tuition fees for university students can be seen as a triangulation of three sets of costs – private (to the graduate), public (to the taxpayer) and political (to the policymaker). The allocation of cost between the three actors has always been uneasy, and when the tension becomes unsustainable, change follows.
Unless you’re fond of ambling, it’s the choice of the destination that usually determines the path you take. The Brexit negotiation is no stroll in the park, but it now looks like one of those cases where it is the path that will determine where we end up.
The political environment facing large international businesses has rarely been more uncertain or more complicated. Over the past twelve months, the UK has voted to leave the European Union, Donald Trump has become President of the United States, and Dilma Rousseff has been impeached and removed...
Tax rises are now back in the centre ground of the UK economic discourse, in a way they have not been for at least a decade. This shift should put businesses and investors on notice - the era in which they could safely assume an ever-friendlier approach to taxation may be at an end.
In collaboration with Herbert Smith Freehills and The Boston Consulting Group, Global Counsel has co-authored a paper looking at the impact of Brexit on the energy sector in the UK and the EU. The paper identifies key energy and climate change policy implications as well as highlighting the role...
The question of UK membership of NAFTA seems to be doing the rounds again. This is not entirely surprising. Both Australian and Canadian trade officials – including Ottawa’s former chief NAFTA negotiator - have recently called for the UK to join existing trading blocks, such as NAFTA, as an easy fix to potential Brexit-related disruptions to UK trade and production. The idea in itself is not new – back in the early 1990s some members of Congress in the US hoped to convince London to swap the EU for NAFTA.
With the UK Parliament likely to dissolve on the 2-3 May, ahead of the 8 June election, there will now be a frantic scramble for the UK government to complete the passage of legislation currently in train. This process, known as the wash-up, was thought to be relatively obsolete with the introduction of fixed-term parliaments. Revived now it will be controversial, as the normal process of parliamentary scrutiny is substantially truncated.
Central bankers have never operated in a political vacuum, even though many of the most important are at least operationally independent. For some, that independence is now being eroded - or even directly challenged.
Regional UK city Lincoln’s hospital’s Accident & Emergency Department was at risk of being closed this week. This was not due to a deluge of patients or a lack of funding but rather the result of a recent tweak to the UK’s tax rules and could have far reaching ramifications for the UK-wide review of self-employment practices, currently underway.
During a trip to Chicago earlier this month, I reflected on the differences between my time in office and the present. Despite economic gains from globalisation, failures in politics and in policy have led to a crisis of confidence in global cooperation.
One of the big political stories in the UK this week was the ‘u-turn’ by Chancellor Philip Hammond on his budget proposal to raise National Insurance Contributions (NICs) for the self-employed. The NICs u-turn demonstrated a couple of important things about politics and policymaking at Westminster as the UK prepares for the most complex bout of parliamentary activity in its modern history, namely legislating its way out of the EU.
Mark Carney knows that the Financial Stability Board needs the US on board. And he knows that the Trump administration is facing pressure to abandon ship. These facts explain the thrust of his letter to the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors ahead of this weekend’s summit in Baden, Germany.
One of the many things the UK will need to do on its way out of the EU is to establish its new ‘most favoured nation’ trading profile at the WTO in Geneva. This means establishing the tariffs for goods, minimum market access conditions for services trade and a number of other notified conditions that will apply in the UK market.
Today SoftBank, new owners of UK tech jewel ARM Holdings, sold a 25% stake in the business just nine months after acquiring the chipmaker. Though the UK government is committed to ending short-termism in company governance and stewardship, and addressing the power of ‘foreign’ takeovers of British companies, the move apparently sounded no more alarm bells than did the initial swoop for ARM.
Northern Ireland’s Assembly election on 2 March has come close to delivering a political earthquake, with the nationalist Sinn Fein coming within 1,200 votes of beating the Democratic Unionist Party to first place, while the Assembly could for the first time lack a unionist majority.
If there is a second independence referendum in Scotland, one of the central issues will be which single market matters more, the UK’s or the EU’s? The latest export statistics for Scotland, published last month, reveal what’s at stake.
The British Prime Minister has just returned from an important visit to a large UK trading partner with a controversial and often provocative leader. There was talk of a possible future bilateral trade deal between the two, and agreement to start preliminary discussions to this effect. This was a cause of mild irritation in Brussels, where the UK’s right to trigger such bilateral engagement is contested, and its tendency to break European ranks seen as a political problem.
Having concluded that Euratom is “uniquely legally joined” with the EU, the government argues that Brexit will require the UK to leave Euratom when it leaves the EU.
It would appear that Macquarie’s status as preferred bidder for the Green Investment Bank, a UK government owned renewable energy investor, is under threat. The sale is now being pulled into the UK’s renewed industrial strategy debate.
Yesterday in Wiesbaden, Bank of England Governor and Financial Stability Board (FSB) Chair Mark Carney gave the clearest articulation yet of how financial regulators are weighing the future of fintech.
British Prime Minister Theresa May goes to Washington this week to meet President Trump, with the aim of securing a strong public commitment to conclude a trade deal at the earliest opportunity. For Trump, this is partly about politics and the desire to differentiate himself from former President Obama, who told the British people they would be at the back of the queue for a US trade deal. For May, it is about demonstrating the UK has outside options should the Brexit negotiation go wrong, while going some way to meeting the high expectations for an independent UK trade policy set during the referendum campaign.
Theresa May’s Lancaster House speech has provided much needed clarity about the British approach to Brexit. It has reset the baseline for the negotiation by taking the UK out of the single market.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May has all but ruled out maintaining freedom of movement between the UK and EU post-Brexit. This implies a new migration system, providing recruitment challenges for a range of sectors from social care to agriculture. Businesses should now plan to adapt, but policy...
UK immigration minister Robert Goodwill’s idea of extending the proposed £1,000 a year charge on skilled migrant workers to workers from the EU after Brexit has drawn attention to the big question of what a UK government might be tempted to do to reduce pressure on migration.
There was some comment this week about the fact that the UK’s largest financial services advocacy body TheCityUK has self-consciously ceased to advocate the retention of passporting rights for UK-based financial services businesses after the UK has left the EU. This was presented as a concession of ambition, but it is also a form of tactical retreat.
Interest in a universal basic income is growing at both ends of the political spectrum, albeit for very different reasons. It is also attracting support, and some financial backing, from tech entrepreneurs. The flexibility of the concept explains why it has created such broad interest. It can...
Campaign group Change Britain has published flawed and incomplete analysis suggesting the UK will gain £24bn a year, or £450mn each week, if the UK government pursues a ‘clean Brexit’ and leaves the single market and customs union.
Leo advises companies and investors on medium term political, regulatory and economic risks and opportunities, with a particular focus on the UK. He works with financial services providers and manufacturers, and on cross-cutting issues including tax, corporate governance and economic policy.
Kirsty specialises in advising investors on political risks in UK and EU politics, and policy associated with assets in the UK. She also gives advice on opportunities at the point of investment and on strategies to manage political change through an investment cycle.
Tom advises Global Counsel’s investor clients on navigating UK and EU politics, policy and regulatory frameworks. Tom specialises in health, education and business services policy and also works across financial services, energy and TMT. He advises investors on political risk and opportunity at