Friday 27 April 2018
Defra, together with the UK’s financial regulator and the outgoing Australian High Commissioner all seek to stop naysaying Remainers in their tracks as City mergers and acquisitions reach new heights and Switzerland sets its stall for a bumper trade deal with Brexit Britain.
The total value of mergers and acquisitions involving UK firms during a single quarter has hit its highest level since 2000. £196.4bn worth of deals were tied up in the first quarter of 2018. The whopping total covers rises in both purchases of British companies and acquisitions by UK firms, $158.7bn and $55.4bn respectively. Foreign buy-ups have now been growing for five years running, the last time, purchases hit a higher total was in 2007.
“While the pace of inbound deals involving British companies may have slowed down as the currency has strengthened relative to the US dollar, the UK continues to be one of the major global destinations for international investors,” said Ben Higson, head of corporate law firm Hogan Lovell’s London office.
“We continue to see interest from foreign buyers such as corporates, funds and international consortiums across a number of sectors, including financial services, energy, life sciences and tech.”
That doesn’t sound like the illiquid and stagnant Brexit we were all told to be fearful of.
The Swiss government has released a statement on its current commercial and visa relationship with the United Kingdom calling for the “expansion of these rights and obligations if possible.” Given the strength of Swiss and UK high-tech manufacturing and financial services, a stronger trade agreement will pay dividends for the UK economy. The Swiss government has already set up a working group towards upgrading its existing deal with the EU, which automatically applies to the UK. There will be reservations over continued free movement between the UK and the famously patriotic alpine nation, but it is worth bearing in mind Swiss citizens currently have the right to live in Britain. Only 21,000 have moved here compared to 89,000 Romanians. Furthermore, the Swiss electorate has repeatedly railed against Brussels-imposed free movement. A clampdown on immigration in 2014 led to Switzerland being thrown out of the EU’s precious Erasmus scheme.
In a week when the EU ramped up its rhetoric against the prospect of a deal on financial services – the head of Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority fought back, denying the EU’s constant accusation it would amount to “cherry-picking”, quite the opposite in fact.
“Now is the time for the UK and EU authorities to come together and work on the solutions to reduce the risks to financial stability that Brexit could pose,” said Andrew Bailey. “Financial stability is far too important to engage in a standoff.”
Earlier in the week, the EU’s Commissioner for Financial Stability, Valdis Dombrovskis had repeated previous statements by Michel Barnier that a bespoke deal on financial services would be out of the question. Barnier later furthered his claims by preposterously denying the importance of the City of London to the European economy.
…In a similar story, the government fought back against the Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) committee, which had released a report demanding regulatory alignment with the EU for Britain’s food and beverages sectors. A spokesperson for the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs replied that Brexit represents a “golden opportunity” for UK food and drink thanks to improved access markets around the world.
And finally, Britain will not be making compromises on its high standards left, right and centre in order to trade more with the rest of the world as Australia’s legendary High Commissioner signs out his term in London by dismissing Remainer scaremongering over hormone-treated beef.
“For a free trade agreement with the UK, food safety issues are unlikely to be an issue at all,” Alexander Downer told the Telegraph.
“The Australian government has never raised the issue of hormone-injected beef with the British government and nor has the Australian beef industry made any representations to us in support of exporting hormone-injected beef,” he added. Like much of the Anglosphere, Australian agriculture is more focused on higher yields using hormones, chemicals and advanced fertilizers banned by the EU. The Remain lobby has sought to frighten consumers with dubious warnings Britain would have to drop these standards as a necessary compromise in order to secure deals with trade partners around the world.