Editor’s note: While BELS does indeed look for good news to report on the UK health & life science sector, at the same time, we absolutely strive to be truthful and accurate. In terms of Brexit, it is not what we and the rest of the sector here would have hoped for, but since the June vote, the tides do seem to be turning.
May offers EU fine words, but pushes British interests Theresa May’s Brexit letter to European Union President Donald Tusk will please EU leaders by sounding constructive and acknowledging Britain must settle obligations before leaving. But the prime minister also made some tougher demands. (Reuters March 29, 2017)
Key points from the Article 50 letter (BBC News March 29, 2017)
Theresa May vows to ‘negotiate hard’ as Article 50 date set The PM promises to “deliver on what the British people voted for” as Number 10 announces Article 50 will be triggered on 29 March. The move will pave the way for two years of negotiations, with the country expected to be out of the bloc by the end of March 2019. (Sky News March 20, 2017)
Germany admits London should STAY as European financial capital after Brexit Paris, Dublin and Frankfurt have all tried to coax banks into leaving the City of London in a bid to grab financial power from Brexit Britain. But Europe’s most powerful finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, has admitted the continent needs London to stay as its financial centre in an unexpected defence of the capital. He has said Europe would be strengthened by getting behind the City despite the UK separating itself from the bloc. (The Express March 17, 2017)
Top of the world: Britain to outpace G7 for ‘next three decades’ Britain will grow faster than any other major advanced economy over the next three decades as the EU’s share of global output diminishes, according to PwC. [Access the PwC report here.] UK economic growth is predicted to outpace the US, Canada, France and Germany between 2016 and 2050, with average annual growth of 1.9pc. This is also double the average annual pace of growth expected in Japan and Italy. (The Telegraph February 7, 2017)
Britain’s future will be rosy if we keep our economy open and embrace the world A prediction isn’t a fact, contrary to what George Osborne seemed to believe during the referendum campaign. A forecast isn’t necessarily or even generally a description of future reality. But the latest set of informed guesses from PwC on the big economic trends facing the world nevertheless make for fascinating reading. The professional services giant’s biggest prediction is that the UK could be the fastest growing economy in the G7 to 2050, with average annual growth of 1.9pc. This is a remarkable assessment – not simply because such an optimistic outcome would be great for Britain, but also because it confirms that many leading City firms are getting used to, or even embracing, Brexit. (The Telegraph February 7, 2017)
Brexit ‘an opportunity,’ but EMA likely to leave London, says AstraZeneca The executive team from AstraZeneca met this week with the UK government to discuss the country leaving the European Union, as its CEO says there are “opportunities” from the so-called Brexit vote as it appears “logical” for the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to leave its current London home after the UK pulls out of the union. In its financials this morning, Pascal Soriot said that, of course, talks with Europe on what Brexit will be haven’t happened yet, so there is still a lot of uncertainty. “But it is logical to assume that the EMA will have to stay in Europe, and that the UK will have to have its own agency, but I think here this can work quite well actually, provided that several things happen” (FierceBiotech February 2, 2017)
UK tech industry spies opportunity in Donald Trump’s US travel ban For months, British internet companies have been grappling with how Brexit will affect London’s fledgling status as an alternative tech hub to Silicon Valley. After Donald Trump’s immigration ban last week, the tables have turned. Tech groups and investors said on Monday that Mr Trump’s ban could come as a boost to the British technology scene, as US tech groups may choose to expand international operations at the expense of domestic hiring, and UK start-ups think twice about expanding to Silicon Valley. (The Telegraph January 30, 2017)
Businesses welcome May’s new industrial vision for Britain Businesses have given a cautious welcome to the Government’s new industrial strategy, which sets out Prime Minister Theresa May’s vision for the country as it negotiates a complex exit from the European Union. The 132-page green paper,* which is now open to public consultation, outlines ways in which the Government will support the economy, including billions of pounds worth of investment in life sciences and technology and an education system with new technical qualifications for people who want an alternative to university. Mrs May also wants to pump money into the country’s ageing infrastructure, helping to rebalance the economy from south to north, and focus training on the key areas of science, technology, engineering and maths. A new “industrial strategy challenge fund” will be set up to support science and innovation, including robotics, clean energy and biotechnology (The Telegraph January 23, 2017)
* Green paper: a preliminary report of government proposals that is published in order to provoke discussion.
Life sciences to play key role in UK’s post-Brexit strategy Prime minister unveils plans to boost jobs, growth and commercialise country’s science base. (PM Live January 23, 2017)
IMF makes further U-turn on Britain’s economic prospects as Brexit. The UK has defied fears of a slump in the wake of the Brexit vote, forcing the IMF to tear up its original gloomy forecast for Britain’s economy … The 0.4 percentage point upgrade is the largest upward revision the Fund has made to any of the nations or regions it covers in its latest update … Over the course of 2016, the UK economy is forecast to have grown by 2%, making it the fastest-expanding major advanced economy in the world, ahead of Germany at 1.7% and the US at 1.6%. (The Telegraph January 19, 2017)
EU unimpressed by May’s Brexit plans – but Witty commends ‘edge’ (PharmaPhorum January 18, 2017)
Government to launch post-Brexit industrial strategy in spring The UK government is to launch a new industrial strategy aimed at helping the country thrive post-Brexit, and life sciences will be ‘centre stage’ when it is unveiled in the spring. … a vision for key industries will be laid out in March… It isn’t going to be just life sciences – it is going to be aerospace, automotive, the City and creative industries as well, but we want to make sure that life sciences is going to be up there centre stage. (PharmaPhorum January 8, 2017)
Theresa May signals that Britain will leave Single Market so it can take control of immigration Theresa May has indicated that Britain will leave the Single Market after Brexit and build a “really good, ambitious trade deal” with the EU. Asked repeatedly whether Britain will leave the Single Market, the Prime Minister said that she will not try to “keep bits of membership”. Her comments suggest that Britain is prepared to leave the Single Market and the Customs Union and apply for a good deal from outside after Brexit. (The Telegraph January 8, 2017)
The EU must compromise to win a good Brexit deal for Britain and the rest of the union, warns Polish PM Beata Szydlo praises the British-Polish alliance in fighting the Nazis and says that ongoing defence and security co-operation between the two countries is essential, and must be at the heart of any new deal. Ms Szydło said the result of negotiations will depend on “imagination and leadership” and called on the Prime Minister to set out her Brexit plan soon. …Ms Szydlo promises Poland will be a “constructive partner” to the UK as it seeks to win a deal but in a warning to other EU states she said there must be a “good compromise” to guarantee “economic and security cooperation”. Her comments echo interventions by other eastern European nations.
The Telegraph November 28, 2016
Theresa May is absolutely right not to tell us what Brexit means It’s a heresy to say it, but someone has to: I don’t want to be told what Brexit means. I don’t blame the government for not telling us. And I don’t want to know in advance what its negotiating plan is. A mania has taken hold of Parliament. MPs keep popping up on TV and in newspapers demanding “a plan” or “to see the strategy”. Not just opposition MPs either, but even normally unexcitable Tories like Andrew Tyrie want to be told “some detail”. Consultants and wonks have made thunderous, clever-sounding proclamations like “silence is not a strategy”. Well, I beg to differ. Silence most certainly is a strategy – and for now, it’s the right one.
The Telegraph November 27, 2016
UK Post-Brexit Data Shows Investment Growth UK business investment rose in the three months following the June vote to leave the European Union, official data showed Friday, signaling that uncertainty surrounding Britain’s future relationship with the European bloc didn’t weight heavily on business sentiment.
Morningstar/Dow Jones November 25, 2016
Brexit Britain: What has actually happened so far? The UK may have voted on 23 June to leave the European Union but it is not yet clear what the country’s path to Brexit will actually mean. BBC News highlights the latest developments following the vote to the economy, currency, interest rates, negotiations, hate crime, house prices, migration, trade, construction, and jobs.
BBC News November 24, 2016
Brexit: All you need to know about the UK leaving the EU This BBC article is designed to be an easy-to-understand guide on what happens now that the UK has voted to leave the European Union: What does Brexit mean? Why is Britain leaving the EU? What was the breakdown across the UK? What has happened since the referendum? What about the economy? What is the EU? So when will Britain actually leave it? What about the court challenge to the Brexit process? Who is going to negotiate Britain’s exit from the EU? How long will it take for Britain to leave the EU? Why will Brexit take so long? What is to be the likely focus of negotiations between the UK and the EU? What do “soft” and “hard” Brexit mean? What happens to EU citizens living in the UK? What happens to UK citizens working in the EU? What about EU nationals who want to work in the UK? What does the fall in value of the pound mean for prices in the shops? Will immigration be cut? Could there be a second referendum? Will MPs get a vote on the Brexit deal? Will I need a visa to travel to the EU? Will I still be able to use my passport? Some say we could still remain in the single market – but what is a single market? Has any other member state ever left the EU? What does this mean for Scotland? And for Northern Ireland? How will pensions, savings, investments and mortgages be affected? Will duty-free sales on Europe journeys return? Will EHIC cards still be available? Will cars need new number plates? Could MPs block an EU exit? Will leaving the EU mean we don’t have to abide by the European Court of Human Rights? Will the UK be able to rejoin the EU in the future? Who wanted the UK to leave the EU? Why? Who wanted the UK to stay in the EU? Why? What about businesses? Who led the rival sides in the campaign? Will the EU still use English? Will a Brexit harm product safety? Which MPs were for staying and which for leaving? How much does the UK contribute to the EU and how much do we get in return? And more…
BBC News November 24, 2016
Theresa May does have a plan for Brexit – the question is whether Europe is big enough to embrace it The leaked Deloitte memo claiming that Theresa Can has “no plan” for Brexit has provided joyous fodder for so-called “Bremoaners” desperate to prove that leaving the EU is impossible and unworkable, but that doesn’t make it so. Contrary to that speculative report, there clearly is a Brexit plan being formulating in Downing Street even if the Prime Minister is resolutely refusing to say precisely how she will respond to the mountain of analysis that has been piling up on her desk since she took office. Officials charged with delivering the technical work on borders, customs, immigration and regulations are charged with having the preliminary work done by Christmas in order for a “political filter” to be applied in the New Year before Article 50 is triggered.
The Telegraph November 16, 2016
Angela Merkel suggests she is willing to compromise on free movement in the wake of Brexit Angela Merkel has for the first time signalled that she is willing to compromise on the issue of freedom of movement in the wake of Britain’s Brexit vote. In comments seen as a significant shift, the German Chancellor suggested that the European Union needs to “discuss further” the rules around freedom of movement. It suggests for the first time that Britain may be able to gain full control of its borders while still retaining access to the single market, something that EU leaders including Jean-Claude Juncker have previously said would be impossible.
The Telegraph November 15, 2016
Brexit: Theresa May insists government ‘getting on with it’ Theresa May has insisted the government is “getting on” with Brexit, following a High Court ruling that Parliament must vote on when the formal process of leaving the EU can get under way. The prime minister urged MPs and peers to “remember” the referendum result. (BBC News November 6, 2016)
Brexit court case: Government loses, May cannot trigger Article 50 Theresa May cannot trigger Brexit without putting it to an MPs’ vote in the House of Commons, the High Court has ruled. In a landmark ruling, Lord Chief Justice Thomas said Mrs May did not have the right to set in motion Article 50, the official start of the two-year European Union divorce proceedings, without consulting Parliament. The decision is a significant setback for the Prime Minister’s Brexit strategy – she revealed at the Conservative Party Conference last month she would trigger Article 50 by the end of March. The Government immediately announced it would appeal against the ruling and the two sides will now prepare for another showdown at the Supreme Court in early December. A Downing Street spokeswoman said it was the PM’s intention to stick to the end of March deadline for Article 50. (Sky News November 3, 2016)
The Remain doom-mongers are proved wrong Among the dire predictions made by the Remain campaign during the EU referendum campaign, two stood out. Growth would collapse in the event of a Brexit vote; and foreign companies would be reluctant to invest in the UK. The latest quarterly GDP figures and Nissan’s decision to build its next generation car at its Sunderland plant have confounded the doom-mongers on both counts. (The Telegraph October 27, 2016)
UK economy grows 0.5% in three months after Brexit vote The UK’s service sector helped the economy to grow faster than expected in the three months after the Brexit vote, official figures have indicated. The economy expanded by 0.5% in the July-to-September period, according to the Office for National Statistics. That was slower than the 0.7% rate in the previous quarter, but stronger than analysts’ estimates of about 0.3%. (BBC News October 27, 2016)
Four months on from Brexit, and it’s official, the UK is booming! Economy GREW by 0.5% in the three months after historic vote, despite dire warnings from Project Fear. GDP growth of 0.5% above expectations between July and September. Treasury forecast before the vote there would be fall of up to 1%. ONS figures show slower growth than the 0.7% between April and June. Chancellor Philip Hammond says the economy is ‘doing very well’
DailyMail October 27, 2016
Four reasons why banks won’t leave the City of London after Brexit [1. Scale—major banking cluster, access to best talent. 2. Cost—bricks & mortar, 30 years of investing since financial deregulation. 3. The rule of law—UK’s strong legal and regulatory framework. 4. Culture—welcoming business culture, English language, the arts.]
The ‘shock and awe’ approach some in the banking lobby are taking in the prolonged pre-Article 50 shadow dance over whether the UK remains in the single market is frankly too much. It risks rubbing politicians up in such a way that could lead to a far worse settlement. It also isn’t true that banks will leave the UK over Brexit. Jobs will go, but not banks. (The Telegraph October 24, 2016)
Sweden holds out olive branch to Brexit Britain Sweden has warned that it would be a serious mistake to chastise Britain for voting to leave the EU, appealing instead for an amicable settlement to minimise damage for both sides. “The softer the Brexit, the better. We’re an open country and we are in favour of free trade, and we want to see a solution that is as beneficial as possible for everybody,” said Magdalena Andersson, the Swedish finance minister. The olive branch from Stockholm reflects the shared view of the Nordic bloc that there is nothing to be gained from a fractious divorce between Britain and the EU. (The Telegraph October 24, 2016)
Official GDP figures to show UK economy defying Brexit recession warnings The UK economy is set show by just how much it outperformed pre-referendum forecasts later this week, when official growth figures for the crucial third quarter are published. Economists expect the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to find the UK grew by a robust 0.3 per cent between the end of June and the end of September. Some are pencilling in a 0.4 per cent expansion. (City A.M. Oct 23, 2016)
Stop moaning and back ‘global Britain’, urge City heavyweights British businesses should stop hiding and instead travel the world promoting “Brand Britain” as “cheerleaders of open markets”, according to former Sainsbury’s boss Justin King. The self-confessed “remoaner” – a nickname reflecting his vote to remain in the EU and his subsequent grumbling – said the economy was performing well, but that should not be taken for granted. (The Telegraph October 12, 2016)
The UK’s economic interests are not the same as those of self-interested business leaders It is now common for Remainers to say that it is unsurprising that there has been no adverse effect on the economy after the referendum because Brexit hasn’t happened yet. Only when we actually leave the European Union, they assert, will adverse effects appear. To put it politely, this is somewhat disingenuous. During the referendum campaign, the Treasury, the Bank of England, the Chancellor, the IMF and Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all suggested that there would be an immediate adverse effect from a Brexit vote. You may recall that asset prices were supposed to plunge, interest rates to rise and an emergency budget was going to clobber you where it hurts. If you believed that the long-term consequences of Brexit would be severely negative then an adverse short-term impact might indeed be expected. After all, economic actors, especially those in financial markets, are supposed to look forward. In the event, as we now know, there was only a very transitory dip in confidence and asset values – and apparently no dip in spending. (The Telegraph October 9, 2016
Expats to get vote for life in UK general elections, government says Fifteen-year limit to be scrapped in wake of Brexit vote to strengthen ties with Britons living permanently overseas. Britons who have settled overseas permanently are to be given a “vote for life” in British general elections, the government has announced. The current 15-year limit will be scrapped as part of a bid to strengthen ties with expats abroad following the decision to leave the EU. The plans, which will have to be ratified by both houses of parliament, were announced on Friday by Chris Skidmore, the minister for the constitution, and follow a campaign by the second world war veteran Harry Shindler. (The Guardian October 7, 2016)
Brexit and the troubled state of the NHS call for re-thinking the UK’s approach to health. The EU referendum vote reveals deep social divisions as well as presenting the country with important decisions and negotiations about the future. At the same time, health problems are growing; the NHS faces severe financial constraints and appears to lurch from crisis to crisis, with leaving the European Union likely to exacerbate many problems including staffing issues across the whole sector. However, new scientific developments and digital technology offer societies everywhere massive and unprecedented opportunities for improving health. It is vital for the country that the NHS is able to adopt these discoveries and see them translated into improved patient care and population health, but also that the UK benefits from its capabilities and strengths in these areas. (The Lancet October 7, 2016)
Brexit means we can revive clinical trials killed by the EU The EU has held back scientific research in the UK. Now it will be liberated. In spite of continued claims from those unreconciled to the referendum result that Brexit will result in disastrous consequences for our universities and for research, it is becoming clearer by the day that this just is not true. Therefore it was sad to hear the new Nobel Prize-winner Sir Fraser Stoddart joining this chorus of doom. The BBC – naturally but illogically – implied that the EU’s money was key to his success. In my field the opposite is true. (The Telegraph October 7, 2016 –by Angus George Dalgleish MD FRCP FRCPath FMedSci, a Professor of Oncology at St George’s, University of London)
‘We are all leavers now’ – Britain’s May wins over pro-Brexit wing Few noticed, but when Prime Minister Theresa May said Britain would once again decide alone how “we label our food” after quitting the European Union it was what many of her pro-Brexit lawmakers had dreamt of. After years of being dismissed as “headbangers”, life-long euroskeptics in May’s ruling Conservatives felt they had finally won over the party when their prime minister told an annual conference on Sunday that “we are going to leave the EU” to reclaim sovereignty and control the flow of people into Britain. Reuters October 4, 2016
Brexit: All you need to know about the UK leaving the EU This article is designed to be an easy-to-understand guide on what happens now that the UK has voted to leave the European Union. BBC News October 2, 2016
Brexit Britain: What has actually happened so far? The UK may have voted on 23 June to leave the European Union but it is not yet clear what the country’s path to Brexit will actually mean. BBC News highlights the latest developments following the votes in terms of the economy, interest rates, the pound, EU negotiations, hate crime, house prices, migration, trade, construction, and jobs. BBC News September 30, 2016
Brexit can make UK highly attractive, says Axel Springer chief One of Germany’s most prominent businessmen has said Brexit will be more painful for the rest of Europe than for Britain, and a UK outside of the EU might prove “highly attractive” to foreign investors — in a sharp break with the German consensus on Britain’s post-EU future. Mathias Döpfner, chief executive of Axel Springer, one of Europe’s largest media companies, said Britain was bound to experience short-term pain as a consequence of its June 23 vote to quit the EU, “but in three to five years from now, my bet would be that England will be better off than continental Europe”. Financial Times September 26, 2016
The Brexit economy: post-referendum data defies gloomy UK predictions Guardian analysis of key economic figures gives rounded assessment three months after the vote. Fears that Britain will slide into a post-referendum recession have been allayed after a Guardian analysis showed the latest news on the economy has confounded analysts’ gloomy expectations, with consumer spending strong, unemployment low and the housing market holding steady. The finding comes as a leading thinktank toned down its earlier dire warnings of economic turmoil for the UK and its neighbours in the event of a leave vote. The Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said prompt action by the Bank of England to cut interest rates had cushioned the blow from June’s Brexit vote but it still believes the UK will suffer a sharp slowdown next year amid heightened uncertainty. The Guardian September 22, 2016
Brexit not as bad as feared, says OECD as it performs u-turn on 2016 growth prediction Britain’s economy will hold up strongly for the rest of this year, defying warnings of an immediate Brexit collapse, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has predicted. Performing somewhat of a post-Brexit u-turn, the international body has increased its 2016 growth forecast modestly, raising its gross domestic product predictions from 1.7pc in its June update to 1.8pc now. The organisation had warned of a “large negative shock” were the UK to vote to leave the EU ahead of the June 23 referendum. The Telegraph September 21, 2016
Theresa May’s Commons statement (Sept 7) on the G20 and Brexit She says she knows many people are keen to see rapid progress on Brexit, but the government must look at this in a sober and considered way. This is about looking for the right model for Britain. The government will look at this carefully. It will not declare its hand prematurely. And it will not provide a running commentary on what it will do.
The Guardian, Politics Live September 7, 2016
Analysis – Brexit offers opportunities for UK scientists (by Professor Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine, Oxford University) Britain’s scientists have benefited enormously from EU funding and the free flow of talented researchers across Europe. Like most scientists, I believed the benefits of continued membership of the bloc outweighed the costs, and would have preferred that the UK had voted to remain, in the referendum in June. But it is unwise to imagine that there were no disadvantages, and important now to look at how best to advance science in the longer term as the UK prepares for Brexit. The opportunities in this new world extend well beyond funding issues. The cultural, ethical and philosophical environment that supports science is in many ways fundamentally different in the UK compared to many European countries. Britain is more inclined towards a relatively liberal risk-based regulatory environment that allows fields to move quickly — to reflect on ethical issues but not to over-regulate. …We need light touch regulation similar to Switzerland so that Britain can become a global leader in life sciences, data, genomics, regenerative medicine and other innovation-based fields.
Oxford University September 5, 2016
Strong UK services data quell recession fears Purchasing managers’ index records largest monthly gain in its 20-year history. Britain’s dominant service sector made a strong recovery in August in a further sign of the economy’s resilience after the Brexit vote.
Financial Times September 5, 2016
Recession fears fade as UK’s growth engine rebounds at record pace after Brexit shock The UK economy is on track to avoid recession this year, according to a closely watched survey that showed business activity bounced back in August as consumers “bucked Brexit” and carried on spending. The pound leapt to a seven-week high against the dollar after a poll by Markit showed the country’s dominant services sector enjoyed the biggest rebound in activity in at least 20 years. The Telegraph September 5, 2016
UK businesses weather fallout from Brexit vote Upbeat survey fuels hopes that Britain can sidestep recession. Activity in Britain’s private sector rose modestly over the summer, according to an influential survey, in the latest indication that businesses are so far shrugging off the impact of the vote to leave the EU. The CBI’s latest growth indicator shows that a net 8% of companies reported a rise in activity in the three months to August, up from 5% in the period to July. Businesses also became marginally more optimistic about growth in the coming quarter. Sunday Times September 4, 2016
Britain can leave EU and still thrive, says Stiglitz Britain is easily capable of thriving outside the European Union, one of the world’s leading economists has insisted in an interview with The Daily Telegraph. “There’s no reason why not”, says Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel prize winning economist and something of an economic guru to the political left. “But it depends on how Europe responds, and how the negotiations go.
The Telegraph September 4, 2016
UK businesses weather fallout from Brexit vote Upbeat survey fuels hopes that Britain can sidestep recession. Activity in Britain’s private sector rose modestly over the summer, according to an influential survey, in the latest indication that businesses are so far shrugging off the impact of the vote to leave the EU. The CBI’s latest growth indicator shows that a net 8% of companies reported a rise in activity in the three months to August, up from 5% in the period to July. Businesses also became marginally more optimistic about growth in the coming quarter. Although growth rates remain below pre-referendum levels, economists say the odds are shortening that the economy will not contract in the coming… Sunday Times September 4, 2016
The economy since the Brexit referendum: Fact and fiction The dire prophesies of doom have not come true – yet. But the economy is slowing. The Economist September 3, 2016
Brexit ‘shock’ threatens to do far more damage to the European economy than to Britain Despite Brexit, Britain may outgrow the eurozone in the third quarter.
The Telegraph September 3, 2016
Pound spikes above $1.33 as IMF admits financial market turmoil triggered by shock Brexit vote has subsided The financial market turmoil triggered by the Brexit vote has subsided, according to the International Monetary Fund, in an embarrassing admission just months after the Fund warned of a vicious cycle of falling house prices and slower growth. …The IMF still expects a sharp slowdown in growth in the third quarter, following growth of 0.6pc in the second quarter. The Telegraph September 1, 2016
It’s time for the Brexit bears to calm down Funny, that. The “experts” were not just a little bit wrong but horrendously, hopefully so…not a single one of the well-paid economists polled by Bloomberg even came close to predicting the extend of the rebound.
The Telegraph (Allister Heath commentary) September 2, 2016