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Bitesize Blighty: November 2, 2018

Mark Rapaport

Deal or No Deal?

A promise of hope blooms in wake of The Times newspaper report that Brussels has agreed to give the U.K. continued access to the EU trading bloc. The post-Brexit financial services agreement is expected to be completed within three weeks. Despite the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, calling the reports misleading, speculations about such a deal has inspired market optimism which translated to the pound’s rise by 1.2 per cent against the dollar on Thursday. This is the latest update amidst ongoing uncertainty and pressure on both sides of the Brexit negotiations to arrive at a concrete Brexit deal before the clock runs out on 29 March 2019. A deal, if it does become formalized, would ensure the application of an EU ‘Equivalence’ to London, allowing the city to retain primacy as Europe’s leading financial centre. Needless to say, such an outcome will go a long way toward quashing business uncertainty and potential corporate migration out of London and the U.K.

Phil is one stand up guy

Budget days are often expected to include the Chancellor pulling the odd rabbit or two out of a his hat – or in this case the red budget box -  but Monday’s announcement featured the Chancellor of Exchequer trying his hands at a bit of stand-up comedy. Philip Hammond peppered his budget with lines like “Fiscal Phil says: Fiscal Rules OK” to support his announcement of the end of austerity; a public toilet pun that followed his reveal of a new business rate relief for public lavatories: “So that local authorities can, at last, relieve themselves”; as well as some well-aimed jibes at opposition parties.  Aside from his comedic performance, the Chancellor introduced a UK Digital Services tax on UK generated revenue for tech giants, which is expected to come into effect April of 2020. With growth and trade being chief Brexit concerns, many are concerned about the intervention’s potential to kill investment in the UK’s broader digital economy impact on post-Brexit Business and Finance in the U.K.

Bienvenue à tous!

Finally! It may interest our US colleagues to learn that those pesky passport control lines at U.K. airports will soon be a lot more tolerable, with the opening of the E-passport gates to millions of passengers from the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Japan, from summer 2019. This move to expand ePassport gates access to travellers from five additional countries is aimed at getting passengers through passport control much faster. Travellers from all five countries would be able to use ePassport gates in the UK and at Eurostar terminals at Brussels and Paris.

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