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The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

Less than a month before the deadline, good Brexit news continues

No other issue in recent history has been as divisive as Brexit. And after the historic leave vote in June 2016, the nation has been inundated with one doomsday headline after another — from economic devastation to the loss of trade, and investment. Despite all of these issues, however, Brexit is now closing in on its March 29 deadline day.

Of course, media has played a huge role in shaping public opinion on the issue, gathering both praise and criticism during their wide scale coverage. For instance, the BBC has largely been viewed as a pro-Brexit publication, while other polls reveal that people perceive The Guardian and Channel 4 News as the most against it. Although these journalistic entities — try as they might to stick to principles of neutrality — reveal subtle biases, it can't be denied that the UK is doing surprisingly well leading up to the Brexit deadline, as none of the predictions mentioned above have thus far come to fruition. Whatever the major news publications' editorial positions, the UK is objectively faring remarkably, especially for a country so vehemently pronounced doomed following 2016's intensely debated referendum.

In fact, the forecasts, which pointed to a chaotic future, have largely been unrealised today, just several weeks away from the final decision on Brexit.

The jobs market boom

Brexit uncertainty doesn't seem to be affecting hiring, as the UK reached a record-level high in employment, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics. The UK now has over 32.54 million people employed. Average earnings have also increased by 3.4% year-on-year as of last December, which is the highest rate in a decade, and even outpacing inflation. Additionally, the UK's unemployment rate only stands at 4% - its lowest since 1975.

It's interesting to note that the total number of foreigners employed within the UK is still increasing despite the drop in workers who are EU nationals. There was an estimated 2.2 million EU nationals working in the UK, per the latest records released by the government — that's 61,000 fewer than the year before. However, the number of non-EU nationals workers rose by 130,000 to a number close to 1.29 million over the same period.

Foreign investors are undeterred

On top of stellar employment numbers, foreign investors seem more confident than ever in the UK. According to an analysis by City AM, the value of UK's foreign direct investment stocks (FDI) in 2017 was £1,336.5 billion, which is also a record high. Outward investment also increased by £38.7 billion to reach £1313.3 billion over the same period. The growth of investments is attributed to Asian countries, most especially India.

The manufacturing sector has seen the largest growth in investment earnings, having achieved a value that's £10 billion higher in 2017 than the year before. On top of this, there is also confidence in the tech industry as tech giants expand office space in the UK.

For instance, Facebook announced its plans to double the size of its headquarters in King's Cross. The social networking company wants space for over 6,000 workers. Facebook's managing director for Northern Europe Steve Hatch explained that the UK is "one of the best places in the world to be a technology company," hence their plans to invest for the long term post-Brexit.

Google is also setting up its massive "landscraper" headquarters in the UK, which is set to house close to 7,000 workers. The building will be 330 metres long. And once completed, it will be the largest structure in all of London. The search giant's expansion plans have been laid out around the same time Google released a slew of new digital updates. Digital marketing agency Ayima rounded up some of Google's new features including the tech giant's focus on improving the search console as well as Google Ads. When the new headquarters are complete, Google may even work on more advanced developments from a post-Brexit London.

Eurozone needs a clean Brexit

In contrast with the UK developments cited above, the threat of recession looms over Germany as industrial production in the country decreased in November. Production output is usually a good indicator of wider economic performance, which is why uncertainties continue to fester over Germany's situation. It's important to note that the European Commission's economic sentiment indicator declined in December 2018 in all four of Eurozone's big economies – Germany, France, Italy, and Spain.

Global Britain director of communications Brian Monteith believes that the Eurozone would actually need a clean Brexit more than the UK does. He argues that the Eurozone needs the UK's economy to rise above its predicaments and pull the rest of the EU countries upward. Experts believe that in a post-Brexit era, EU economies will be downgraded, while the UK's will most probably enjoy economic growth.

This sentiment echoes a previous post here on The Bruges Group, where writer Scarlett Spencer posits that there is nothing needed to be negotiated with the EU. The article claims that the EU has a strategy of focusing on information and overload publishing in order to make opponents believe they have more to lose than themselves. This tactic leads the other side to make unnecessary concessions, which will ultimately be to the EU's benefit. Negotiations will then stagnate — resulting in the worst possible deal.

It's clear that there is growing confidence in a post-Brexit UK, both from locals and from international companies and investors. The question now is when doomsday prophets and world governments will be ready to admit it.

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Director : Robert Oulds
Tel: 020 7287 4414
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Founder President :
The Rt Hon. the Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven LG, OM, FRS 
Vice-President : The Rt Hon. the Lord Lamont of Lerwick,
Chairman: Barry Legg
Director : Robert Oulds MA, FRSA
Washington D.C. Representative : John O'Sullivan CBE
Founder Chairman : Lord Harris of High Cross
Head of Media: Jack Soames