Brexit Bites, 6 November 2017

Nov 06, 2017

Secret papers, interest rate rises and meetings in Brussels are on the Brexit menu this week. With talks set to resume on Thursday, the Bank of England voted to increase interest rates in the hope of curbing inflation. In other developments, the Northern Ireland Secretary of State travels to Brussels today to ensure that Northern Ireland’s interests in the Brexit process are protected and advanced.    

Public papers

Following a vote in UK parliament, the government is preparing to show MP’s “secret” papers that spell out the impact that Brexit will have on the UK economy. The problem is however that the government would prefer to keep this information out of the public domain.  

Whether the papers will actually be released, in their current form or a redacted version, is yet to be revealed.  However it’s indicated that despite being infrequently used, the motion covering the vote to release the papers is binding.  The leader of the Commons said as much last week. It appears that while the information contained in the papers will be “forthcoming”, no timescale was provided. The government is keen however not to damage the Brexit negotiations while also protecting the national interests.

Interest rates rise

For the first time in ten years, the Bank of England has voted to increase interest rates. The base rate has increased to 0.5 percent from a record low of 0.25 percent.  With inflation well above its 2 percent target, the Bank said that it could no longer justify keeping rates static while Brexit has a “noticeable impact” on the outlook for the economy. 

In a statement, the Bank said that uncertainties associated with Brexit means that domestic activity has slowed despite significant global growth and it is desired to curb high inflation which is currently squeezing UK households and businesses.  Sterling fell against the Euro and US dollar in response to the announcements and wasn’t helped by the fact that the Bank didn’t detail a specific timeframe for any future rises.

Northern Ireland Secretary to bring NI’s interests to Brussels

James Brokenshire, the Northern Ireland Secretary is meeting EU officials in Brussels today to discuss the unique issues that affect Northern Ireland as a result of Brexit. As well as discussing the current political situation, Mr Brokenshire will also seek to ensure that Northern Ireland’s interests are protected and advanced.

The Secretary of State will meet the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier as well as holding a meeting with Phil Hogan, the EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development where he will discuss the important area of agriculture.

Speaking ahead of the meetings, Mr Brokenshire said “My visit to Brussels today comes at an important time. Negotiations are underway and we want to secure an agreement that delivers for all parts of the UK, including Northern Ireland. As Secretary of State I am fully committed to ensuring that, as negotiations progress, the interests of Northern Ireland are protected and advanced, through the development of specific solutions to address its unique circumstances.”

He also said that he is seeking no physical customs posts or otherwise at the border. “Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK to share a land border with an EU member state, and we recognise the flow of traffic across the border on a daily basis for people going about their daily business is essential as we move forward. There must be no physical infrastructure at the border.”

Brexit Shorts

  • More Brexit talks take place on Thursday and Friday this week
  • It’s reported that 95 percent of businesses in Ireland don’t have a Brexit plan
  • UK Prime Minister will seek to reassure business leaders today that she knows clarity on Brexit issues is a matter of urgency
  • Would the UK be booming if not for Brexit?

Read all of our Brexit updates on the dedicated Brexit section of our website.