Blog: Brexit has made Britain the sick man of Europe again – The Guardian

When recently asked on the Today programme to cite chapter and verse on the subject of Brexit “opportunities” Michael Gove, the secretary of state for all seasons, was hopelessly out of his depth.

However, Gove missed a trick. What he should have said, but as a signed-up Brexiter obviously could not, was that the only “opportunity” arising from Brexit was to conduct a scientific experiment to demonstrate that the whole idea was a mistake. Moreover, it was a confidence trick on the British public, the majority of whom now realise that they have been had.

As business and industry struggle with the consequences of imposing sanctions on our ability to trade with our largest market, and citizens – known to economists as “consumers” – struggle with the higher import prices imposed by the devaluation resulting from Brexit, the polls are pronouncing people’s verdict on Brexit with a vengeance.

A recent YouGov poll tells us that 56% of people think we were wrong to leave the EU and only 32% that we were right. Even 19% of those who own up to having voted leave now think they were wrong. The only age group containing a majority still in favour of Brexit is the over-65s – I have to say they are not among the over-65s I myself bump into, but there it is. And 88% of those who voted Labour in 2019 think leave was the wrong decision. (Keir Starmer and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves please note!)

It is obvious that the more intelligent members of the Sunak/Hunt cabinet have got the message from the CBI and elsewhere that we need, for the sake of our economy and the general welfare, to rejoin the single market. But this is the love that dare not speak its name, even though it appears that attitudes towards immigration – free movement! – have changed since 2016, when the egregious Boris Johnson, himself of Turkish ancestry, fomented anti-immigrant feeling with nonsense about an imminent flood of Turkish immigrants.

Sunak has picked up the message that the combination of Brexit and the chaos in the Conservative and Brexit party has led foreign observers to conclude that Britain is sinking fast. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, of the group of 20 leading economies, only Russia is performing worse than the UK. Yes, we were known as the “sick man of Europe” until we joined the European Union and – guess what – we have left the EU and have regained that dubious status.

Membership of the EU did great things for this country. Both Labour and Conservative governments fought their corner and, on the whole, got what they wanted. Margaret Thatcher and her righthand negotiator Lord Cockfield played a blinder in the setting up of the single market, and John Major achieved wonders at Maastricht with the UK’s opt-out from the single currency. As for rightwing concerns about “ever closer” union, they were duly assuaged. In essence, what those all too influential leavers achieved was a wholly unnecessary Brexit that shot the economy in the foot.

The Office for Budget Responsibility calculates the cumulative damage of Brexit will be enough to knock 4% every year off our potential GDP. As Michael Saunders, a former member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee, has said: “The need for tax rises [and] spending cuts wouldn’t be there if Brexit hadn’t reduced the economy’s potential output so much.” And the Financial Times recently reported that many of the asset managers whom Sunak and Hunt were trying to pacify after the Truss-Kwarteng fiasco were concerned about the dangers of overdoing austerity!

It was a former Treasury permanent secretary, Lord Croham, who observed to the historian Lord Hennessy and me once: “What matters is not balancing the budget but balancing the economy.” Yet, with the recent budget and the chancellor’s “shock and horror” talk, we seem to be back to the era of sado-monetarism. We are certainly a long way from balancing the economy.

The economist Jim Ball used to say he was suspicious of the OBE – not the Order of the British Empire, but the people who give you One Big Explanation.

For this government, the OBE for our economic troubles was first Covid, then Ukraine. I am not saying Brexit is the cause of all our problems but – my goodness! – it has magnified them. With due respect to the memory of the late Prof Ball, I should like to nominate Brexit as the One Big Explanation for why this economy is faring so much worse than the rest of the G20.

Blog: Save our Brexit: Two thirds of Brits OPPOSE Swiss-style deal with EU, exclusive GB News polling reveals – GB News

Save our Brexit: Two thirds of Brits OPPOSE Swiss-style deal with EU, exclusive GB News polling reveals

The poll found that Brits are also overwhelmingly in favour of moves to train British workers to fix Britain’s ailing economy

According to the survey by People Polling for GB News* just 32% of voters say they would support the idea.

This falls to 15% among Conservatives and 13% among Leavers. There is much stronger support among Labour voters (57%) and Remainers (56%).

The poll found that Brits are also overwhelmingly in favour of moves to train British workers to fix Britain’s ailing economy.

The recent position set out by Labour’s Keir Starmer, for example, is widely popular in the country.

The recent position set out by Labour’s Keir Starmer, for example, is widely popular in the country.
Jacob King

When it comes to filling the gaps in Britain’s economy, 60% of voters believe Britain should prioritise training and educating British workers to fill these gaps over high immigration.

In contrast, only 9% believe Britain should prioritise high immigration to fill the gaps over training and educating British workers.

Among Leavers, four-in-five (79%) believe Britain should prioritise training and educating British workers to fill gaps over high immigration, a view shared by 77% of Conservative Party voters.

Commenting on the findings Prof. Matt Goodwin said: “In the papers this week it was suggested that government officials may be considering moving to a Swiss-style deal. Yet this only attracts support from one-third of the country and strong opposition from many of the Conservative Party’s own voters and Leavers, who are critical to the party’s fortunes at the next general election. As far as most voters are concerned this appears to be a non-starter

It is clear from these results that most voters do not want to return to the old economic model of high immigration with little investment in domestic British workers. The recent position set out by Labour’s Keir Starmer, for example, is widely popular in the country. This underlines why both the main parties should be fleshing out detailed policies for training and educating British workers to help plug the holes in our economy.”

The poll also delivers a welcome boost to Rishi Sunak.

The poll also delivers a welcome boost to Rishi Sunak.
Stefan Rousseau

The poll also delivers a welcome boost to Rishi Sunak a week on from the Autumn Statement. It has Labour on 44% of the national vote, the Conservative Party on 24%, the Liberal Democrats on 8%, the Greens on 8% and Reform on 5%. This represents a three-point jump for Conservative and a three-point fall for Labour from last week, reducing the gap between the two parties to 20 points.

Commenting, Professor Matt Goodwin said: “This is perhaps better news for Rishi Sunak and the Conservative Party but the Labour lead remains solid and strong. The Conservatives are still in the low twenties and, based on these numbers, are still looking at a wipe-out at the next general election. Rishi Sunak will be hoping he can soon tell his party that he has restored their fortunes but as of today the polls suggest otherwise”.

The poll also surveyed Brits for their views on abolishing the House of Lords and replacing it with a new elected chamber. It found 46% support the idea of the House of Lords being replaced with a new elected chamber, whereas only 8% oppose such a plan. Among Labour voters, 61% support replacing the House of Lords with a new elected chamber.

Ahead of England’s match with the USA, the poll also illustrated less than half of Brits support the idea of the national team’s players taking the knee before.

It found 40% of all voters support England’s footballers ‘taking the knee’ at their World Cup matches in Qatar, with 23% opposing footballers ‘taking the knee’.

Among Conservative voters, only 21% support England’s footballers ‘taking the knee’ and 44% oppose, whereas 67% of Labour voters support footballers ‘taking the knee’ and only 6% oppose.

*The poll is a nationally representative survey of British adults by British Polling Council (BPC) member People Polling.

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Blog: Moonlighting MPs earn more than ever from second jobs, despite ‘crackdown’ – The Guardian

MPs are making more than ever from second jobs despite promises from the government to clamp down on the practice, one year on from the Owen Paterson scandal, an Observer investigation has found.

Of the 129 MPs who made more than £2,000 from outside income between October 2021 and September 2022, 86 – including the former attorney general Geoffrey Cox – either earned more or the same amount than in the previous year.

Overall, MPs made more than £5.3m from outside work in that period, with many, including former cabinet ministers, taking on new roles as advisers and non-executives in the last year for companies that in several cases were run by major party donors.

Many have taken jobs in areas they used to oversee in government.

Former education secretary Gavin Williamson took on a role in June as chairman of the advisory board of RTC Education Ltd, a private education group whose chairman Maurizio Bragagni and chief executive Selva Pankaj are major Conservative party donors.

Williamson was set to earn £50,000 a year for a total of 80 hours’ work. The Observer understands he left the role in October after he was offered a position in Rishi Sunak’s cabinet, from which he has since resigned after bullying allegations.

Former social care minister Caroline Dinenage was appointed in March as an independent non-executive director of LNT Care Developments Group, a residential care home developer and constructor, a role worth £30,000 a year for 15 hours’ work a month.

LNT Care Developments Group founder and racing tycoon Dr Lawrence Tomlinson has donated at least £91,000 to the Conservatives and individual Tory MPs since 2017 directly and through LNT, according to the electoral commission.

Former universities minister Chris Skidmore saw his outside income rise from £10,960 to more than £62,000, thanks to a quadrupling of his salary from Oxford International Education Group, a private company that links foreign students with UK universities, when he was made a non-executive director in May.

Ex-transport secretary Chris Grayling earned £100,840 from outside work, largely from remaining in his £100,000 a year role as adviser to shipping company Hutchison Ports, for which he does seven hours of work a week.

Former attorney general Cox earned more than £1m in fees as a barrister, while Tory MP Fiona Bruce earned £281,415 from her legal work with Fiona Bruce and Co LLP.

Cox faced accusations last year of a conflict of interest, after it was revealed he had lobbied against tougher financial regulation on the Cayman Islands while earning tens of thousands of pounds from legal firms based in the tax haven.

In a statement, he told the Observer: “There is no conflict of interest between my work as a barrister and my role as a member of parliament” due to the impartiality that is “essential to the administration of justice”. He stressed that many MPs continue legal work while in parliament and the role was “no more time consuming and demanding than the role of attorney general” that he once held.

While she did not comment on the Observer’s findings, Bruce stressed over email that a large proportion of the money listed in her earnings this year and last was related to tax liabilities rather than her actual income.

Gavin Williamson had been set to earn £50,000 a year from a private education group before accepting a role in Rishi Sunak’s government. Photograph: James Veysey/REX/Shutterstock

Chris Bryant, chair of the Commons standards committee, told the Observer said he was “irritated” by the government’s lack of progress to even enact “simple recommendations” that could curb the impact of lobbying in parliament, while campaigners said the sanctions for MPs breaking rules needed to be tougher.

MPs’ second jobs were part of a major controversy a year ago, after the parliamentary commissioner for standards found then Conservative MP Owen Paterson had breached the ministerial code of conduct by misusing resources, engaging in paid lobbying and failing to disclose interests.

Evidence of Paterson’s lobbying was originally uncovered by the Guardian. Randox, a healthcare company, paid the former Northern Ireland secretary £100,000 a year to be its consultant. He was found to have lobbied ministers on behalf of Randox and another firm that paid him.

Apart from Cox and Bruce, the highest earners included former prime minister Theresa May and former and current ministers John Redwood, Andrew Mitchell and John Hayes, who all listed six-figure earnings in the last year.

Of the 247 MPs, 148 (or 59%) who listed any outside earnings last year were Tories, rising to 73% for those earning more than £2,000. Twenty-two of the 25 with the highest registered earnings were Conservatives.

“The standards committee completed its report months ago. We want to tighten the rules on second jobs to put an end to MPs acting as paid political consultants or strategists,” Bryant said. “We want to require MPs to have a contract for any outside work stating they cannot lobby ministers or officials on behalf of their clients.”

Susan Hawley, executive director of the charity Spotlight on Corruption, said: “Members of parliament are paid by the taxpayer to do a job – to represent the interests of their constituents. Unfortunately, the system we have today fails to properly ensure that MPs concentrate on the work they have been elected to do – that has to change.”

Blog: Swift Awarded Best Solution in Payments Fraud Prevention – Regulation Asia

Singapore/Hong Kong, 22 November 2022 – Swift was awarded Best Solution – Payments Fraud Prevention in the 5th Regulation Asia Awards for Excellence 2022 at an in-person ceremony on 22 November 2022.

Swift was recognised for Payment Controls, which helps financial institutions detect payment anomalies in real time that can be indicative of fraud or operational errors. The solution uses a rules-based approach to screen and validate payment messages from within Swift’s network, providing an additional layer of control to supplement existing fraud prevention tools in place at banks. Its risk scoring capabilities draw from modelling based on trends seen from historical payment traffic as well as leveraging fraud labels.

The rules and models established within Payment Controls were initially developed following extensive forensic investigations by Swift into compromises of some banks’ environments. Since the initial launch in 2018, the models and scenarios have been continually updated and refined to account for new attacks and emerging threats to banks, enabling them to stop and abort suspicious payments in-flight before they are delivered to the receiving bank.

This year, Payment Controls is being further enhanced to provide more granular and context-rich insights, by leveraging account-level activity data from the Swift network giving banks much needed visibility on what is happening more generally at a network level. Next year, additional network-based insights will be added to allow detection of activity spikes and money transfer spikes at an account level (ordering/beneficiary customer side) furthering the end customer use cases.

“Payment Controls has become an essential and highly effective tool for banks, given the prevalence of cyber criminals looking to penetrate banking networks,” noted one judge on the Regulation Asia awards panel. “The solution should be recognised as it is able to look at anomalies across multiple transactions, historical payment flows and data from the entire Swift network at once. This is only possible due to Swift’s unique position and ability to leverage vast network data.”

Over 900 BICs are now using the platform across 156 countries, including 245 in Asia Pacific – eight of which are central banks in the region.

About the Regulation Asia Awards for Excellence 2022

The Regulation Asia Awards for Excellence recognises financial institutions, technology companies, legal and consulting firms, exchanges and other players that help ensure the highest regulatory compliance standards are upheld in the financial industry. Each year, senior industry practitioners serve on a judging panel to help assess and score each submission to determine the winning entrants.

For a full list of the award 2022 winners, visit www.regulationasia.com/awards.

About Regulation Asia

Regulation Asia is the leading source of actionable regulatory intelligence for Asia Pacific markets. With over 12,000 subscribers, including regulatory bodies, exchanges, banks, asset managers and service providers, Regulation Asia plays a key role in shaping the regulatory agenda.

Visit www.regulationasia.com or connect via LinkedIn or Twitter.

Blog: Saving Scotland’s hill paths starts in Dundee after Brexit funding cuts – The Courier

Stuart Younie is the CEO of Mountaineering Scotland.

He said many do not realise the cost of the upkeep of these paths.

“Scotland’s informal hill and mountain path network plays a vital role in helping us to enjoy the physical and mental benefits of being active outdoors, which was never more evident than during the pandemic.

“Our access may be free from charges, but it does come at a cost.

“We need to recognise the cumulative impact of recreational activity on our landscape and do something positive to address it so it can continue to be enjoyed by future generations.”

Dundee mountaineers will benefit from grant

Groups like the Scottish Mountaineering Trust are vital to keeping our beauties spots safe and looking their best.

They are responsible for campaigns like Tak It Hame which discourages hillwalkers from littering.

Dougie Baird is the CEO of Outdoor Access Trust Scotland (Oats).

He said that a lack of funding since Brexit has made supporting Scotland’s mountain paths all the more difficult.

“We no longer have access to European funding, which has provided significant support for path and habitat restoration projects in the past, with no funding from the government to replace it,” he said.

“It’s fantastic to have received the Scottish Mountaineering Trust’s Diamond Grant to kick start the project.”

Oats CEO Dougie Baird carrying out a path survey on An Teallach. Image: Oats/Mountaineering Scotland.

“The ‘It’s Up to Us’ project will be vital in showing that mountaineers and conservationists can come together to solve the problems at An Teallach and other mountains on private land.

“Whilst also highlighting the desperate need for government support for this type of work in the future,” he added.

Scottish Government employment minister Richard Lochhead said:

“The reality is that Scotland’s communities, which have benefited substantially from decades of EU investment, are losing out because of Brexit – which Scotland didn’t vote for.”

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