It was all change at team Brexit Britain this week. Prime Minister Boris Johnson elevated his unelected chief Brexit negotiator David Frost to the cabinet on Wednesday, putting him in charge of relations with the European Union. “Frosty” – who led the team that secured the last-minute Brexit deal – is seen as a tougher negotiator and a harder Brexiteer than Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, who he replaces. His appointment could spell cooler U.K.-EU relations ahead.
Frost’s attitude seems to differ, at least, from that of former Brexit Secretary David Davis, who admitted in an interview with Bloomberg’s Therese Raphael that when he was in the job, “nothing kept me up at night”. Atop Frost’s in-tray will be resolving interruptions to goods flowing between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland, as well as getting access to the bloc for financial services firms in the City of London.
Even if the capital’s still a powerhouse, it’s gone down in financiers’ estimations since Brexit, and New York has stolen a march. That’s according to a survey by advisory firm Duff & Phelps. But Barclays Plc boss Jes Staley isn’t worried. “London will be fine,” he said this week.
On the subject of trade and friction, the data have become a matter of hot debate, with the U.K. government contesting figures from the Road Haulage Association that showed goods exports were down 68% because of Brexit.
The latest numbers from logistics platform Transporeon painted a rosier picture, indicating that the rate of shipping firms rejecting contracts to take goods from France to the U.K. fell to its lowest level since November. But that’s only one way. And the monthly Purchasing Managers Index on Friday showed supply chain disruptions pushed U.K. manufacturing to its weakest level in nine months in February.
Meanwhile, a U.K. plan for evaluating the economic impact of new trade deals was ready in time for the arrival of the post-Brexit agreement. Nevertheless, as Joe Mayes reports, publication was delayed because ministers didn’t want that level of analysis applied to the EU accord, according to a person familiar with the matter.
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