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Brexit Bulletin: Yoga for Brexiters

  • The government is trying to unravel some knotty Brexit problems
  • The number of students studying political science has surged

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The U.K. is adopting so many Brexit positions it might do well to start a yoga class.

Details on at least three different topics are being lined up for next week, Bloomberg’s Ian Wishart and Alex Morales report, following plans for customs and the Irish border unveiled this week.

They come after criticism that Prime Minister Theresa May hasn’t presented a clear idea of what she wants from the Brexit talks. The U.K. is now trying to inject fresh impetus in order to convince European leaders that trade talks should start as soon as October.

The negotiations with the EU have had a “positive and constructive start,” May told Sky News on Thursday. “There’s a lot to be done. As a government we’re showing the work we’re putting into this.”

On Monday the government plans to release two documents. One is on how it will treat confidential EU information obtained before Brexit, and the other is on how goods placed into supply chains in the EU single market before the U.K.’s departure can still be made available afterward.

Further reports being lined up relate to civil and commercial contracts in force before the U.K.’s exit; and one on how the Brexit deal will be enforced, with details on how any disputes will be resolved.

The EU welcomed the publication of this week’s U.K.’s position papers, but said it was focused on making progress on the issues of “separation,” including Britain’s residual financial obligations and the Irish border. There is mounting speculation such discussions will now not take place until December, limiting the time available to talk trade.

Theresa May’s government is trying out more Brexit positions.
Photographer: Digital Vision via Getty Images

Brexit Latest

Dublin Down | A fight is brewing in Ireland about whether it should be doing more to draw bankers fleeing London, with Michael McGrath, finance spokesman for opposition party Fianna Fail, calling its efforts so far “disappointing and underwhelming.” Ireland’s central bank insisted it was being “open, engaged and constructive,” and Ireland has attracted some firms.

On the Farm | Failure to strike a Brexit trade deal could see sheep farmers lose about 38 percent of the value of their production, according to Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute. By contrast, beef, pork, poultry and dairy producers could benefit from increased tariffs on imports from the EU.

No Deal Not Bad? | A trade pact with the EU is desirable, but not essential, the Institute of Economic Affairs said in a new report. The think tank said Britain should walk away from talks if the EU offers bad terms that would lead to a protectionist and costly agreement. Instead, it advised Britain to trade with the EU under World Trade Organization rules, seeking a policy of zero tariffs while brokering free-trade agreements with other trading partners.

Foreign Aid | Foreign-owned companies are beating domestic peers when it comes to U.K. productivity, according to the Bank of England. Researchers found companies from abroad are twice as productive as domestically owned firms because they spend more on research and development, are better managed, collaborate with other organizations and promote the diffusion of ideas. That could be a cause for concern if Brexit ends up repelling overseas investment.

Short Transition | Economist Gerard Lyons, a former adviser to now-Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, wrote in the Financial Times that any post-Brexit transition should be short, because otherwise “there is a risk that any arrangement ends up being semi-permanent.”

On the Markets | Pyrford International CEO Tony Cousins said he’s avoiding U.K. banking and retail stocks because the country’s economy is set to weaken as consumer debt piles up. He played down Brexit as a factor, though. “The U.K. has a lot of challenges,” he said. “The one that most people talk about is Brexit, which I think is not insignificant, but it’s a bit of a sideshow.” Reports released this week suggested the British consumer is already flagging.

Office for National Statistics

And Finally…

Brexit could be having an impact in the classroom. The number of pupils studying politics at A-level (aged 16-18) has surged by almost 13 percent, The Sun newspaper reported. That was the second biggest increase after computing.

Sharon Hague, a spokeswoman for Pearson, which runs the Edexcel exam board, was quoted as saying that “obviously you do wonder whether the growth in political studies is about young people getting really interested in the world around them.”

Political Studies saw the second largest increase in entry numbers after computing.
Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

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