According to new Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, the UK could leave EU if it does not allow major UK concessions. He said it was “pretty clear” that UK voters will reject EU membership in 2017 if they see no major changes in the EU in working with the United Kingdom’s interests. He added that other EU countries saw that change was needed.
Hammond stressed that “the status quo is not an acceptable way to run the Europe in future”. He added that the EU’s new offer had no change or negotiation. He iterated that it was his job to ensure that re-negotiation takes place for the good of the United Kingdom in the EU.
Hammond aims to ensure that there is change in balance in the competencies between the EU’s nations, have a resolution on how the EU could succeed and co-exist with non-Eurozone members, and ultimately work for the United Kingdom as well.
Political analysts saw Hammond’s assignment to Foreign Secretary as an attempt by British Prime Minister David Cameron’s conservative party to win back UKIP converters, those who have lost faith in the conservative government.
However, many Tories continue to place doubt on Philip Hammond’s capabilities to achieve major changes that will work for the United Kingdom in the European Union. His predecessor, Ken Clarke, warned that “right-wing headbangers” have invaded the Tory debate regarding the EU.
According to Newstatesman.com writer Bryan Glass, England has more to gain if Scotland voted for its sovereignty. He said that “devo max” is a bribe proposed by the UK to give the Scottish parliament more powers from Westminster. However, many people, including Scots, find the offer to be too late. Glass implies that nobody will believe that devo max would ever change the minds of the Scottish people or its government in a sudden surprise.
Glass views that if Scotland remains in England with the promise of devo max, it would only hurt England because Scotland will continue to ask for more powers. As compared to them having their own government, economy and constitution, they can grant all the powers sovereignty could give them, without troubling the entire United Kingdom.
Once Scotland also gains its independence, it would allow reinvestment of allocated Scotland funds to other areas of the United Kingdom. He also indicated that it could help resolve the West Lothian question, which allows Scottish MPs to vote on the legislation of England that does not affect Scotland directly.
Glass iterated that the problem is only cultural attachment and its historical union, but the facts are clear that Scotland’s independence weights big benefits for the United Kingdom, and would not affect England’s and Scotland’s productivity.
According to UK political analysts, it is highly possible that Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond, could only become a lobbyist in Westminster if Scotland ever wins its independence vote.
Analysts said that Scotland will have all the sovereignty to make political decisions independent of the United Kingdom, but it would reduce its capability to influence decisions in UK’s Westminster. Currently, Scotland has MPs who could express the opinion of Scotland and have heavy political leverage.
Scotland will also be unable to share the Pound Sterling with the rest of the United Kingdom. The entire country will enjoy the fruits of its decisions, but in the end, the terms of its independence also relies on other countries, including the members of the United Kingdom, as to the rights that it has.
With weakening influence, Scotland is likened to a “fax democracy” by political analysts. They describe fax democracies as proposals of council ministers being literally faxed to the offices of Westminster should it want to lobby for anything. Yet, as being only paper, it becomes weak.
Scotland’s political leverage will have severe reductions, which could affect its growth, aside from a reset credit rating and the restarting of its currency away from the Pound Sterling.
The new Parliament of Brussels is facing trouble against British Prime Minister David Cameron’s want to appoint a Federalist as the next head of the European Commission. He said on Tuesday last week he will push to reform Brussels, which he considers too big, bossy and interfering.
Lately, the European Union had a number of setbacks after voters had given support to the opposition and Eurosceptics in the country. Fringe parties, hard-left and far-right have also gained public support. This urged the European Union to set up a meeting in Brussels to review their priorities in response to the clear public dissatisfaction
The British Prime Minister is pushing for a repatriation of powers to national parliaments. He said that the EU should concentrate on the things that matter and not on trying to do so much.
In France, extreme right Front National had a quarter of voters supporting them. Party leader Marine le Penn said that it was time France was protected against globalisation and preserve their country’s destiny.
UKIP’s leader Nigel Farage had also received great praise from a great share of the UK public and has become the inspiration for Germany’s Alternative for Germany (AfD) political group.
CBI President Sir Mike Rake is expected to say that it is difficult to see how Scotland’s independence will help investment and jobs in the country. The business lobby group, in its annual dinner, will host the president to make a speech. He will be highlighting the importance of the European elections and other economic problems Scotland and the UK will face once Scotland gains its independence.
He pointed out that other businesses in Wales and Northern Ireland can also feel the effects of Scottish independence.
However, the Business for Scotland, a pro-independence group, pointed out that more and more business will thrive in the hands of a Scottish government who understands the needs of its country’s business.
The CBI, a lobby group, had been left by the Law Society of Scotland, Aquamarine Power and Balhousie Care Group after the group had initiated on a “no” vote on Scottish independence. Some Scotland universities had also left the organisation because of its stance.
Sir Mike Rake pointed out that in isolation, one cannot be at its best. He added that open markets are an essential part of the UK and Scotland’s open economy.
Meanwhile, BoE Chancellor George Osborne sees the Scottish referendum as part of the economic challenges the UK will face as it will have significant impact once September arrives with results.
UK’s Sterling is now at $1.6921 and it fell back $1.6906, and had surpassed the value of the Euro with 0.1% to €1.2184. UK’s PMI had risen to 57.3 from a 55.8 in March, indicating expansion, and it had surpassed economist’s expectations as they had only expected an increase by 55.4 in the previous year.
UK’s manufacturing sector contributes heavily to the increase in the Sterling’s value. According to Markit/CIPS, the PMI remained high for five months. UK’s manufacturing sector had also grown along with consumer, intermediate and investment goods sectors. Orders were increasing in the country.
They also pointed out that UK manufacturers were creating 10,000 jobs a month at its present rate.
Manufacturing and production, catching up with the UK’s services industry along with the slowly-recovering construction sector, are contributing effectively to UK’s economic recovery as it balances the foundations of the new economy. However, economists said more is to be done for the construction sector, which was still 12% below its pre-crisis peak.
Strong export orders for UK manufactured goods also support the economy’s continuing recovery. Eurozone demand had increased as economies start to recover and austerities gradually become lax.
Economists are saying UK’s manufacturing sector is looking to start well for the 2014 second quarter.
According to Economics expert Robert Peston, the UK’s rapid economic recovery may be slow and that it may be dangerous because it is debt-fuelled. The UK’s indebetedness is falling rapidly with economic growth strengthening in the finances of households, banks and businesses. However, Peston pointed out that if the UK’s economy is not fast enough, an unexpected increase in interest rates will be highly damaging.
UK’s total debts is equivalent to 484% of its GDP by the end of 2013. The UK could reach the US debt level of 282% if it shuts down its gigantic global banks. UK’s indebtedness is falling, says Peston, despite small changes in the absolute amount of debt on the books of businesses and households. According to Peston, banking debt had fallen sharply to more than £100 billion in just a year.
Peston pointed out that the UK’s economic recovery is debt-fuelled and that it should be sustainable. However, households are still saving less than what they were and are not taking on larger debts. UK household debts are smaller than their incomes. While this is a safety net for UK interest increases, consumer debt is still high, which could have high interest rates make a grave impact on the UK’s recovery.
UK’s biggest coal miner is at the brink of collapse that can cost the UK 2,000 abandoned jobs. Last year, UK Coal was rescued by the Pension Protection Fund, which it chose over a proposal by Hargreaves Services to buy the company for £20 million.
UK Coal is asking for £10 million in government funding to close three of its deep pits in Britain and sell its surface mines.
UK Coal’s dilemma stems from the internationally low price of coal and it is burning its reserves despite a lack in break-even on its spendings. The strong pound and cheap imports of coal internationally, particularly Russia, had lowered the value of locally-produced coal.
According to General Secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers Chris Kitchen, the UK government should support indigenous and local energy supplies, especially now that the Ukraine crisis will have the UK turn a diplomatic row against Russia with economic sanctions, which would limit the supply of coal imported into the country.
The PPF helped UK Coal in July 2013 by providing a £2.2 payment, a £60m loan note and a promise of future dividends. It took on the liabilities of the company pension scheme that cost around £500 million for the company’s 7,000 members.
UK MPs called for higher annual aids for Myanmar from £60 to £100 million despite concerns. The International Development Committee said that UK could help bring reform in the country. However, critics said Myanmar’s development heavily relies on removing their cynical attitude to change their system.
The international community is concerned with the Human Rights record of Myanmar, previously known as Burma, because of its imprisoning of political dissidents, handling of government protests and cases of prisoner torture.
In 2013, the European Union had cautiously dropped all sanctions against the country.
Concerns mainly surround Myanmar’s military having greater power over the public. Critics said that it would be naïve to reward Myanmar’s leadership when the intended result is yet to be revealed.
However, Liberal Democrat Malcolm Bruce said that there had been significant progress in the country and they are supporting the UK government’s approach to help reformers of Myanmar’s government get out of poverty and develop a strong economy that will propel them to an efficient, democratic nation.
IDC Minister Alan Duncan said that he was very pleased with the UK Committee’s support for the government’s approach in helping Myanmar. According to Duncan, they have the capability to deliver transformational change for the country.
The Islamic Bank of Britain will be the first to offer Home Purchase Plans complaint with Sharia Law for UK Muslims who wish to purchase a new home while benefitting from the Help to Buy scheme. This allows homebuyers to make use of a 5% deposit for properties worth £600,000.
UK Muslim nationals can now apply for “Islamic Mortgages” as the government extends the Help to Buy’s taxpayer-backed financial aid to Sharia financing. Muslim home buyers could now use Home Purchase Plans or HPPs in conjunction with Help to Buy for a Sharia law compliant mortgage.
HPPs allow the borrower and the bank to own the property in proper proportions, which makes the financing deal compliant to Sharia law. The Islamic law prevents Muslims from using mortgages that deem the borrower as paying interest to the lender.
The scheme will be updated this morning as an Islamic finance conference in London will meet and launch the new scheme as part of the Help To Buy. The move will help put the UK’s intention of becoming a major financing centre for Sharia-compliant financing schemes.
However, the Help to Buy scheme is still under attack from British MPs who question the possible housing bubble the new financing scheme could bring the United Kingdom.