Brexit Bulletin: Brexit Heartland Sticks to the Script
Brexit Britain fought back overnight.
A week after the ruling Conservative party lost a parliamentary seat to the anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats, it retained Sleaford, where 62 percent of voters backed leaving the European Union in June’s referendum.
The Tories won 54 percent of the vote, a little less than the 56 percent in last year’s general election, with the U.K. Independence Party in second place with a slightly reduced 13 percent. The Liberal Democrats, who won in Richmond a week ago, nibbled into the other party votes to claim third place, with 11 percent, ahead of Labour on 10 percent.
The election was held after a Tory lawmaker resigned over Prime Minister Theresa May’s handling of the departure from the EU. The result underscores polling data suggesting that those who supported Brexit in June continue to do so, providing May with some strength as she prepares to open divorce talks in the new year.
May got a boost from business on Thursday as McDonald’s shrugged off Brexit worries by switching its non-U.S. tax base to the U.K. from Luxembourg. The company said:
“The reasons for changing the location of the corporate structure to the U.K. were sound before Brexit and remain so beyond it. These strengths are unlikely to change as the U.K. negotiates leaving the European Union.”
Still, May received a nudge on Thursday from German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, who said she is taking “far too long” to activate the withdrawal.
Britain Sticks With EU on Emissions
May’s government is signaling it will continue its membership in the EU’s emissions-trading market even after Brexit.
As Bloomberg’s Alex Morales reports, the current thinking is that benefits such as continuity for businesses outweigh any advantages of leaving, according to a government official.
The program caps greenhouse gas emissions for about 11,000 power stations and factories across Europe, allowing those who exceed their caps to buy permits from companies that undershoot them.
Brexit’s Billionaire Loser
South African billionaire Christo Wiese navigated the upheavals of apartheid and the creation of a free nation over more than five decades to build a $6 billion personal fortune.
He moved to diversify last year after the sale of his biggest holding. The investment company in which he’s the top shareholder, Brait SE, plowed £1.6 billion ($2 billion) into Britain at exactly the wrong moment: the U.K. was on the threshold of voting for Brexit.
As Janice Kew and Luca Casiraghi report, the hammering the pound took on that decision means Wiese’s 35 percent stake in Brait has since slumped by about $1 billion.
Speaking by phone on Wednesday, 75-year-old Wiese said he remains sanguine about the loss.
“The whole world is topsy turvy at the moment and it’s a difficult world to read. I didn’t expect Brexit, I’m still puzzled by how people are thinking.”
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- Trade groups warn of higher food prices if Brexit reduces immigration, Guardian says
- What happened when Nigel Farage visited Washington
- May slaps down Johnson over Saudi ‘puppeteer’ allegations
- University of Cambridge says applications from EU fell after referendum
Theresa May’s Battle Ahead
Bloomberg View’s Therese Raphael writes that there is still a chance that the “Remain” camp could yet win the Brexit peace.
Despite Wednesday’s motion in the House of Commons backing May’s timetable for triggering Brexit, there remains a chance the Supreme Court could rule against the government, requiring that May return to the Commons for a formal Act of Parliament.
Whatever the Supreme Court decides, remainers have been winning the more important argument in the court of public opinion, Raphael writes,
“Half of those polled recently said the government is doing a bad job handling Brexit, and that was before negotiations even started. May remains popular, but her honeymoon won't last forever. The further she wades into the details of Brexit, the harder she will find it to keep all sides happy.”
Former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne isn’t experiencing any of the recessionary conditions he warned of if voters backed Brexit.
The Daily Mirror reports on Friday that Osborne has made £500,000 for nine speeches since losing his job in June, the equivalent of £26,000 an hour.
And what about George’s old mate David Cameron, you ask? Well, he has resurfaced as well, photographed alongside former U.S. President George W. Bush and his wife Laura at a Texas basketball game.