7 June 2017

Conservatives could reform human rights law to combat terrorism

The Conservatives have suggested they would reform the UK’s domestic human rights regime and derogate from aspects of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), while remaining a signatory, if that would help combat terrorism. Speaking at an election rally, Theresa May said, “As we see the threat changing, evolving, becoming a more complex threat, we need to make sure that our police and security and intelligence agencies have the powers they need. I mean longer prison sentences for people convicted of terrorist offences. I mean making it easier for the authorities to deport foreign terrorist suspects back to their own countries. And I mean doing more to restrict the freedom and the movements of terrorist suspects when we have enough evidence to know they are a threat, but not enough evidence to prosecute them in full in court. And if our human rights laws stop us from doing it, we will change the laws so we can do it.” However, the Conservative manifesto pledges that the UK will remain a signatory to the ECHR for the duration of the next parliament.

Source: The Press Association

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Emmanuel Macron predicted to win a record majority in French parliamentary elections

A new poll by Ipsos and Sopra Steria shows French President Emmanuel Macron’s party, La République En Marche (LREM), is expected to win the largest parliamentary majority for a French president since Charles De Gaulle in 1968. The poll estimates LREM will take 29.5% of the vote share in the first round this Sunday, and will go on to win 385-415 parliamentary seats in the second round on 18 June. The party needs to secure 289 seats to obtain a parliamentary majority.

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Industry body says market forces should determine euro-clearing location after Brexit

Speaking at an IDX derivatives conference, Walt Lukken, Chief Executive of the Futures Industry Association, said that an enforced relocation of euro-denominated clearing business from London by the European Commission could double trade-default capital requirements, adding, “It’s important that we allow market forces to determine the appropriate location for euro clearing.”

At the same event, Jeff Sprecher, Chairman and Chief Executive of Intercontinental Exchange, said, “To a certain extent, the UK has taken our presence here for granted,” and he called on the UK government to maintain the attractiveness of its tax and regulatory regime. He added, “Brexit is going to fragment markets and will change the competitive landscape. We may see the hand of God move clients to different jurisdictions. It feels pretty good right now in the face of Brexit to have continental European presence that is ready to accept business.”

 

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QBE insurance picks Brussels as new EU base in preparation for Brexit

QBE Insurance group yesterday announced it has chosen Brussels as its EU base. Richard Pryce, chief executive of QBE’s European operation, said, “Brussels is pretty compelling for us as our biggest existing European business is in Belgium…It was important to us that we are in the centre of Europe. We have an operation that is scalable and we know the regulator. In the end it wasn’t a particularly difficult decision.” This comes as RSA insurance group announced its new EU base will be in Luxembourg.

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Study finds 53% of voters under 30 say they are certain to vote compared with 79% of voters over 60

A study by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) found that 53% of UK voters under 30 said they would definitely vote in the general election compared with 79% amongst those over 60. The study, which was conducted in the month running up to May 28, also found that 56% of all voters feel unrepresented by the parties. Roger Harding, Head of Public Attitudes at NatCen, said, “There is a large chunk of voters who do not feel represented by current political parties… They do skew to people who would traditionally be Labour voters.” He added that political engagement amongst young voters appeared to be “roughly similar” to past reports despite findings in other polls, adding, “Either there has been an unprecedented surge in willingness to vote among young people, or some of the polls are out.”

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Consumer spending slows as prices rise faster than wages

According to data from the British Retail Consortium, the value of retail sales rose at a rate of 0.2% in May, slower than the 1.4% rise recorded in the same month in 2016. This follows a fall in the services Purchasing Managers’ Index to 53.8 in May from 55.8 in April. Chris Williamson of IHS Markit, which compiled the index, said, “We could quite easily see growth slip further in June as business confidence appears to be quite fragile and consumers will continue to be squeezed by high prices and low wage growth in the near term.” Separately, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Nick Clegg said, “Consumers are already beginning to feel the Brexit squeeze… Price rises have hit energy bills, petrol, and clothes.”

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GMB union calls for Brexit workforce plan as EU health workers in UK more than double since 2009

Speaking following the release of a report from the GMB trade union that highlighted a 72% rise since 2009 in the number of EU nationals working in health and social care, Rehana Azam, GMB national secretary for public services, said, “In recent years our reliance on EU nationals has more than doubled, yet [Prime Minister] Theresa May seems unable to come up with any kind of coherent plan. Whoever forms the next Government needs to clarify the future of EU nationals to ensure our health service doesn’t stumble into another catastrophe.”

Separately, discussing the 92% fall in the number of EU nationals registering as nurses in the UK since the referendum last year, Tom Hadley, director of policy at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, said, “Official data shows unemployment has dropped to the lowest level since 1975, and EU citizens are leaving the UK in droves. Employers seeking to fill vacancies are running out of options… The NHS, for example, is becoming increasingly reliant on short-term cover to fill gaps in hospital rotas because there aren’t enough nurses to take permanent roles.” He added, “These figures clearly show that in many sectors we need more, not fewer, people so that businesses can grow and public services continue to deliver.”

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OE’s Pieter Cleppe: the EU and the UK aren’t that far apart

Writing for BrexitCentral, Open Europe’s Pieter Cleppe commented, “Despite the fact that there is a risk that negotiations go off the rails, the EU and the UK aren’t that far apart. The simple reason is that there aren’t so many different ways to implement Brexit.” He continued, “Given that Labour doesn’t want the UK to be “in” the single market but only to gain as much access as possible to the single market, [a Swiss-style bilateral] model of perpetual negotiation is likely to be the future of EU-UK relations.”

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