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A personal view of the business and role of property in new Europe

by Richard Pickering, Head of UK Research & Insight Cushman & Wakefield

Cabinet makers and bed makers

Cabinet makers. Purely on account of how MPs voted, it is no surprise that Theresa May’s new cabinet is predominantly comprised of Remainers. Sajid Javid now takes the reigns of the Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG). It remains to be seen whether he will follow his predecessor’s devolution focused agenda. Local authorities will in particular be concerned to see business rates retention remain on the table. Although widely perceived as a demotion, Javid may yet find himself in charge of large budgets previously held by the EU to ensure regional redistribution of wealth

Bed makers. As the new order of the Conservative Party was unveiled, some of those who were the strongest advocates of the Leave position, have seemingly been told to go deliver. David Davis and Liam Fox will be leading the negotiations with the EU. However in the first instance they might find themselves short-staffed. As outgoing (and now retiring) EU Policy minister Oliver Letwin noted, ‘the trade negotiators who are Brits at the moment are basically working for the EU’

Banking on cuts? Against expectation, the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee held interest rates at 0.5%. Prior to the referendum there was an expectation of rising interest rates; however the new mantra is ‘lower for even longer’. With the appointment of a new PM, and a decision to hold rates, the pound enjoyed its best week against the dollar for seven years. However, this feels like kicking the can down the road. If, as widely expected, rates are cut in August, then property should be a beneficiary due to its relatively attractive yields, and potentially cheaper debt

Cutting in banks? In news comforting for London landlords, SocGen was one of the first banks to confirm its commitment to the UK – shortly followed by taking additional space in St James’s Square. Perhaps more predictably, Barclays confirmed that it ‘has no plans’ to move people to other locations. In contrast, JPMorgan has continued to raise the prospect of job relocations (‘a few thousand’), as has HSBC (‘up to 1,000’). In both cases this is only likely to come to pass if passporting rights are not secured. In both cases these figures are also small compared with pre-Brexit intentions to do the same, but for other reasons.

Contingency plans. Alongside the bookies and the financial markets, it is becoming apparent that most commercial occupiers did not anticipate the referendum decision. In almost all cases, contingency plans appear thin and lacking in detail.  For those UK businesses servicing a UK client base, the question is mostly about revising growth expectations, and so these organisations should be capable of reacting. However, for those who are reliant on trade with the EU, there are binary threats which are more difficult to resolve until a new treaty takes shape.

Offshoring & North Shoring. London’s economy has pulled away from that of the rest of the UK since the last recession. However, responding to cost of living increases and wage growth, many organisations had long before Brexit started the process of ‘north-shoring’ front line operations. The threat of offshoring jobs remains. However, in a climate of weak growth and cost control, the UK’s regional cities perhaps have more to gain than do Europe’s from any loss to London.

Brexit breaks. Prior to the referendum,  a number of investment and international property transactions were drafted to include ‘Brexit break clauses’, allowing purchasers to unwind contracts in the event of a vote to Leave. This device was rarely adopted in occupational leases. However, moving forward, break clauses are becoming a more frequent addition in new leases. Unsurprisingly, most of these are timed to coincide with a prospective exit from the EU in 2018-2019. Of potential comfort to landlords accepting such provisions, historic analysis shows only a small percentage of break clauses being activated in normal circumstances.

Breaks from Brexit. As the UK heats up this week and schools finish for summer, many will use the lull to take a break. However, the faltering pound will push many towards taking a ‘staycation’ – a term popularised in 2008. Combined with a massive surge in interest from abroad (searches for US to UK flights doubled over the past week) this looks like good news for the UK’s hotel and leisure sectors. Bad news, however for travel agents, such as the Low Cost Travel Group, which went into administration last week – the first real casualty of Brexit.

Construction Industry. With import pricing increasing, and construction workers’ wages buying fewer Euros, the pricing of construction contracts could come under upward pressure. For those on site, the dynamic between cost plus and fixed price contracts will be important in allocating the burden. There is historically low supply in the UK’s office markets – not so on the residential side. New starts in both are likely to subside over the next six months whilst the mist clears, which might help to rebalance pricing over the medium term.

Home and away. The UK’s EU Exit secretary David Davis suggested that ‘there may be a cut-off point’ beyond which EU citizens who arrive in the UK may not have a right to remain. Turned on its head this might be seen as an affirmation that the 3.3m EU nationals currently living in the EU will not be under threat? Potentially good news for sectors which rely on EU migrants such as manufacturing (10%), retail and leisure (8%) and banking (7%). Also good news for the £1.2m Brits that live in the EU if reciprocal arrangements can be secured.

Milk round. The Brexit ambulance chasing begins in earnest, as EU countries start to woo UK occupiers. The Head of Paris’ regional government sent a letter to 4,000 UK execs extolling the benefits of living in Paris. Germany countered with a billboard in the City reading ‘Dear start-ups. Keep calm and move to Berlin’. Senior ministers from Luxemburg have set up a tour of the UK. Ireland has funded an advertising campaign aimed at fund managers, and Spain is reviewing tax breaks to attract banks from the UK.  There becomes a danger of ‘a race to the bottom’ especially in view of the proposal to cut UK corporation tax to 15%. Meanwhile opportunities abound for occupiers.

Bored of Brexit? Unsurprisingly, Google Trends showed a big spike of people searching for the term ‘Brexit’ on 23 June. Now on a daily basis there are only 3% of this initial number of clicks in the UK, with most of these confined to the South East of England. Other areas of the world still interested in Brexit: Corsica, Bonn and the Balearic Islands.  Meanwhile searches for Pokemon Go, Windows 10 and Taylor Swift all showed strong gains.  Brexit is very last month, it seems.

UnknownRichard Pickering 

Head of UK Research & Insight
Cushman & Wakefield 

125 Old Broad Street, London, EC2N 1AR, United Kingdom 
richard.pickering@cushwake.com

www.cushmanwakefield.com

No Brexit negotiations until 2017?

By Lee Chappell, Corporate Dealer  Currencies Direct 21st July 2016

Yesterday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted that negotiations to leave the EU will not commence until Theresa May & the UK has triggered Article 50. It would appear the new Prime Minister will seek to trigger the official deal in 2017, giving her and the UK time to properly manoeuvre themselves out of the EU, as it will take approximately two years to be released from EU regulations. Angela Merkel did suggest that the bond between the UK and the European Union will still be as strong as ever after the Brexit, showing commitment to keep in partnership moving forward.

Sterling boosted by a fall in the UK unemployment

The UK unemployment rate fell to 4.9% (down from 5.6%), an 11-year low since 2005, giving the pound an early boost this morning. All in, 1.65 million are now unemployed which is 54K fewer than previous period. Wage growth also rose slightly at 2.3%, but if you exclude bonuses wages, it actually slightly fell for the first time since October.

All eyes on the European Central Bank

Today all eyes will be on the European Central Bank rate decision, with no change expected to be the outcome. The next question wanting to be answered is to whether Mario Draghi feels more QE is needed, and does the ECB have the tools in place to rectify any negative movements since Brexit was confirmed.

We will also see figures out of the UK, with Public Sector Net Borrowing figures out alongside June (YoY) Retail Sales. US Initial Jobless Claims for July along with Continuing Claims plus Existing Home Sale are also for viewing in the afternoon session.

 

Lee Chappell
Corporate Dealer

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Lee looks after our large corporate clients, providing dealing and hedging services whilst also helping to manage Currencies Direct overall market exposure.

 

 

 

GBP (Sterling) - CAD (Canadian Dollar) 1.7181
GBP (Sterling) - EUR (Euro) 1.1924
GBP (Sterling) - NZD (New Zealand Dollar) 1.8705
GBP (Sterling) - USD (United States Dollars) 1.3103
GBP (Sterling) - AED (UAE Dirham) 4.8137
GBP (Sterling) - BGN (Bulgarian Lev) 2.3221
GBP (Sterling) - BHD (Bahraini Dinar) 0.4936
GBP (Sterling) - BWP (Botswanan Pula) 14.2130
GBP (Sterling) - CHF (Swiss Franc) 1.2882
GBP (Sterling) - CNY (Chinese Yuan) 8.7682
GBP (Sterling) - CZK (Czech Koruna) 32.1865
GBP (Sterling) - DKK (Danish Krone) 8.8765
GBP (Sterling) - HKD (Hong Kong Dollar) 10.1680
GBP (Sterling) - HRK (Croatian Kuna) 8.8910
GBP (Sterling) - HUF (Hungarian Forint) 373.3320
GBP (Sterling) - ILS (Israeli New Sheqel) 5.0190
GBP (Sterling) - JPY (Japanese Yen) 138.6020
GBP (Sterling) - KES (Kenyan Shilling) 132.6900
GBP (Sterling) - KWD (Kuwaiti Dinar) 0.3952
GBP (Sterling) - MUR (Mauritian Rupee) 46.9900
GBP (Sterling) - MXN (Mexican Peso) 24.3400
GBP (Sterling) - NOK (Norwegian Krone) 11.1750
GBP (Sterling) - OMR (Omani Rial) 0.5036
GBP (Sterling) - PHP (Philippine Peso) 61.7760
GBP (Sterling) - PLN (Polish Zloty) 5.2027
GBP (Sterling) - QAR (Qatari Rial) 4.7741
GBP (Sterling) - RON (Romanian New Leu) 5.3225
GBP (Sterling) - RUB (Russian Rouble) 84.6130
GBP (Sterling) - SAR (Saudi Riyal) 4.8876
GBP (Sterling) - SEK (Swedish Krona) 11.3134
GBP (Sterling) - SGD (Singapore Dollar) 1.7763
GBP (Sterling) - THB (Thai Bhat) 45.8050
GBP (Sterling) - TND (Tunisian Dinar) 2.9159
GBP (Sterling) - TRY (Turkish Lira) 4.0124
GBP (Sterling) - ZAR (South African Rand) 18.6831

Buying and selling property abroad

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 21.56.49World First is the UK’s leading foreign exchange company, specialising in transferring funds for individuals buying and selling property overseas, offering better rates than the banks and exceptional service.

Why choose us?

• Exceptional rates – you can save up to 3%*

• No transfer fees

• The fastest available international payments

• Award-winning, dedicated service from our dealing teams

• You can transact online & over the phone

What we offer

• Transfers to & from almost anywhere

• Fix your rate up to three years in advance

• Currency Options: Fix a rate for the future – clients can protect themselves from negative movements – but benefit if the rate moves in your favour.

• Regular transfer service – perfect for mortgage & property maintenance payments

How it works

Selling property in Spain with a spot contract

A client sold his Spanish villa for €500,000 and wanted to transfer the funds back to the UK. We agreed an exchange rate of 1.2162, and he transferred the money to World First’s euro account in Spain. We then made a same-day transfer of £411,116. If he’d used his bank, it could have taken up to seven days and he’d have received £6,103 less. Buying property in the UK with a forward contract A US-based client was due to complete on a £2.53m house in London and had to convert her dollars to pounds. She was concerned the US dollar would lose value before she completed – and the house would end up costing her more. We arranged a forward contract for her, which let her secure a rate of 1.6670 for two months later. The cost of her property was fixed at $4,217,510. By the time she completed, the rate had worsened to 1.6933 – so the forward contract saved her $66,539.

Buying an overseas property with a Currency Option

We offer all sorts of Currency Options, but put simply, they allow you to benefit to some extent if the exchange rate goes in your favour once you’ve fixed an exchange rate, but also protect you if it goes against you. Some will require you to pay a small premium, some won’t. Get in touch to find out more.

World_First_Banner_300x250

 

About us

World First has offices in the UK, US, Australia, Hong Kong & Singapore. We maintain well over four times the required regulatory capital and our net assets have seen steady growth since we began trading. World First UK Ltd is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority and we ensure your funds are appropriately safeguarded and segregated from business funds. World First UK is registered in England and Wales as a Limited Company: No 05022388 and is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, FRN:900508, under the Electronic Money Regulations 2011 for the issuing of electronic money. 

Shared electric scooters have come to Paris

AFTER A 7 MONTHS TRIAL PERIOD, CITYSCOOT STARTED ITS SERVICE LAST MONTH

Cityscoot launched its renting service in PARIS with 150 electric scooters spread over a 33km2 zone at the heart of the capital. The fleet will progressively reach 1000 scooters in the inner Paris by the first quarter of 2017.

625 CityScootSince the press conference that marked the beginning of the trial period, The City Hall of Paris has not stopped lending its official support to this private project. Indeed, this new mean of locomotion will contribute to relieving the traffic congestion as well as making the city less noisy and less polluted.

A trial, carried out for 7 months using about fifty scooters, allowed Cityscoot to learn some precious lessons thanks to feedbacks from more than a thousand users. Their comments, whether spontaneous or gathered through surveys, have lead Cityscoot to improve the customer journey and enhance the technology made for the scooters, in order to offer an ever more end-to-end experience.

How it works . . .

The booking system created by Cityscoot is entirely innovative and connected: no keys, no card, no booking or charging terminal…

Thanks to the application Cityscoot downloaded onto their smartphone (Android and iPhone), the users can localize one of the available scooters, view its battery life and freely book it for 10 minutes, giving them the time to go to the scooter.

A 4-digit code displayed on the screen enables the scooter unlocking. To end the rental, one only needs to park on a public space authorized for motorized two-wheelers inside the Cityscoot Zone. The user never have to worry about charging the scooter: the Cityscoot maintenance team replaces empty batteries with fully charged ones.

An approved helmet, adjustable to the user’s head, is available under the saddle, as well as one- use only hygiene caps.

At the heart of Paris, 7 days a week, from 7 A.M.

Cityscoot are available for rental 7 days a week, from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. They are spread across the « Cityscoot Zone », which refers to the areas of Paris in which the scooters can be rented and returned on the allowed parking spaces for motorized two-wheelers. The users are nonetheless free to drive and stop inside or outside the Cityscoot Zone. It already covers a third of the inner Paris (map can be seen here: http://bit.ly/1rehCtt), and is intended to progressively extend to the whole capital.

Free online registration

The Cityscoot service is available to every adult.

The registration is free and is done online on the website www.cityscoot.eu. In order to create their account, the user must submit their contact details, register a debit card, upload a valid ID and if necessary a driving licence:

  • If the user was born before 1st January 1988: a driving licence is not needed.
  • If the user was born after 31st December 1987: he must hold a valid French delivered or EUdelivered driving licence : A, A1, A2, B or BSR (AM licence).FREE INITIATION SESSIONS

    Cityscoot offers to unexperienced users to freely take part in training initiations dispensed by professionals from driving school, in order to ensure the security of the user at best.

    PAY ON USE

    No subscription, no commitment. Renting a Cityscoot is charged by the minute, starting the first minute, with no minimal time limit! The rental starts after dialling the code on the scooter, and ends when it is returned.

    CityMoover:

    This is the basic price available from registration: 0,28€ all taxes included, starting the first minute.

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CityRider: Intended for more frequent users, it enables to buy minute packs beforehand in order to benefit from advantageous discount.

Two packs are available:

- CityRider100: 100 minutes for 25€ all taxes included (namely 0,25 € / min)
- CityRider500: 500 minutes for 100€ all taxes included (namely 0,20 € / min)

The users can buy as many packs as they want: the prepaid minutes add up and can be used with no time limit. When reaching end of stock, the CityMoover price will automatically apply.

Urban electric scooter

The Cityscoot is a L1e electric scooter (equivalent to a thermal 50CC model), whose speed is limited for an urban use to 45km/h. Thanks to its low gravity centre and its innovative electric engine, the Cityscoot is easy to handle and provides a genuine driving please in silence. Manufactured in Europe, the Cityscoot is a reference in terms of security, reliability and robustness.

ALLIANZ FRANCE, CITYSCOOT’S PARTNER INSURER

In the event of theft or damage, the insurance subscribed by Cityscoot with Allianz France comes into play. Thus, the driver is completely covered for the entire rental period. This all- risks insurance, included in the rental price, is automatically subscribed through the transaction, with no formalities to complete. In the event of an accident, the user benefits from the assistance services of Mondial Assistance France, every day at all times.

Cityscoot is member of the AVEM, the AVERE and the MOV’EO POLE.

What Does The Brexit Result Mean For UK Expatriates?

By Rob Kay, Senior Partner, Blevins Franks

This is a very historic moment for the UK.  43 years after joining the European Community it now starts the process of leaving the EU.  This is new territory for us all, and while we hope for a smooth transition there will be a period of uncertainty until the various negotiations are completed and we find out what the changes will be.

Leaving the EU will affect most UK nationals, in varying degrees, whether you live in the UK or abroad.  Expatriates living in the EU have extra concerns such as over residency, healthcare, property rights etc.

No-one can be sure exactly what will happen next, but we can put your mind at ease in some key areas.

Is there anything I should be doing now?

It is expected to take at least two years, if not longer, to work out the terms for leaving the EU.  Nothing changes in the short-term. You will have plenty of time to consider how to respond to whatever changes emerge.

Do I have the right to stay in France?

The procedure for the UK to leave the EU will take at least two years, quite possibly longer, and nothing changes till then.  The rights of French citizens in the UK and UK citizens in France should remain unchanged for that period.

Looking ahead, with so many EU nationals living in the UK and vice versa, we would expect new bilateral and multilateral residency agreements to be worked out, and these could maintain the current benefits of EU membership for expatriates.

With expatriates contributing as much as they do to the local economy, it is likely that the authorities here will want to make sure France remains an attractive place for Britons to invest and relocate.

What about healthcare?

As with residency, your current healthcare benefits should continue for the next couple of years until the Brexit terms have been ironed out.  Again, it is possible that new bilateral agreements will be negotiated with regards healthcare for expatriates, but we will need to wait and see what happens here.  It may become more important to have good private health insurance.

What about taxation? Will I pay more tax in France?

Brexit should have very limited consequences on how are taxed in France. Local tax rates will generally remain the same for all residents and double tax treaties, such as the one between the UK and France, are independent of the EU, so your existing tax treatment will continue to apply. The UK, for example, has treaties with many non-EU countries like Australia, the US, Canada and Norway.

However there are circumstances where taxation may be affected. For example, UK bonds would become non-EU bonds, and so will not qualify for the beneficial tax treatment given to EU assurance-vie and capital redemption bonds.  You may wish to seek professional advice to review your position.

Exit tax would also be impacted as there are different rules if you move from France to a non-EU country than if you move to an EU one.

What about my investment portfolio?

If you use tax-efficient investment structures which are provided by companies outside the UK, such as the ones Blevins Franks recommends to clients, these are not dependent on UK rules and so Brexit does not affect them.

Investment markets do not like uncertainty so there is bound to be some volatility for a while.  Try to avoid turning paper losses into real ones by selling investments which have fallen.  It is also important to have a portfolio that is well diversified and designed around an objective assessment of your attitude to risk.

While the longer-term implications are difficult to predict, it will take several years for the terms and details to be worked out. With professional and personalised financial advice, you can make sure that you are prepared and in a good position to protect yourself, whatever the future brings.

At Blevins Franks, our advice to our expatriate clients is provided from outside the UK and within the EU, as are the tax planning arrangements we uses,  and so is not affected by the vote. We remain in a strong position to continue to provide compliant wealth management and tax planning solutions to British expatriates in Europe and those returning to the UK.

To keep in touch with the latest developments in the offshore world, check out the latest news on our website www.blevinsfranks.com

imagee66b2e

 

UK interest rates to remain the same

By Sam Budd, Corporate Dealer CURRENCIES DIRECT

We heard from Mark Carney at the Bank of England yesterday with some disappointing news of an 8 to 1 decision to keep interest rates where they are. Markets had been trading in anticipation for a rate cut from 0.5% to 0.25%.

The decision to keep interest rates where they are clearly reflects the Monetary Policy Committee’s requirement for more time to assess the economic impacts of Brexit. During their meeting yesterday, it was stated that “most members of the Committee expect monetary policy to be loosened in August”. This will be released alongside the August Inflation Report, which will include updated economic forecasts.

Following the market events, Sterling made gains of over 1.5% on the day against the euro and dollar.

Referendum impacts still hard to predict

On the corporate side, FirstGroup stated that group revenue during the first quarter has decreased by 1.4% in constant currency while it can’t yet predict the impact of the referendum. This just shows the level of uncertainty within the corporate world and how it has rocked the currency markets.

More data from June to come

Over the day, we can expect to see Eurozone trade balance data (May) and the consumer price index (June), followed by Carney speaking again at 1pm. We’ll also have retail sales data and consumer price index for June to follow at 1:30PM. Today could be another volatile day for markets to really set the stance for the open again of next week.

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 23.07.27

After the Referendum

by Brian Cave

After the Referendum

There are two avenues to explore.

1. Whether to fight the legality of the result or

2. To accept the result and demand that the British Government achieves protection of the way of life of British Citizens in the EU after Brexit.

The bulk of Citizens abroad should long ago have been more insistent on achieving the Right to VOTE.  Too many have said ‘I don’t want the vote’ and it is that attitude that has led us to this crisis. This lack of true political representation to the British Government affects a great many British citizens in various ways throughout the world.

Whatever your attitude towards ‘brexit’ the Votes-For-Life should be an absolute priority for the British Government.  The Manifesto of the Conservatives promised it.  France and Italy give all their Citizens full representation, with designated deputies (MPs) to their Assemblies.

Britain fails its responsibilities under the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

Harry Shindler has submitted a plea to the United Nations Commission of Human Rights. Its reception has been acknowledged.

His plea relates particularly to Article 21 of the Declaration of Human  Rights.

Harry was constrained in this action until all other avenues for redress were explored. That he has done through the European Court of Human Rights (This is not a Court of the European Union) and recently the Supreme Court of the UK.

Harry (and many more British Citizens who have lived abroad for more than 15 years) had no vote in the Referendum and of course no vote in any General Election.

 

Article 21. of the UN Declaration of Human Rights states.

(The UK was a party to this declaration.)

(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.

(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.

(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

 

http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/

He hopes that the UN will intervene to declare the Referendum unrepresentative of the citizens of the nation (thus – the ‘country’. Is not the UK the country of the British citizens wherever they live?) and therefore illegal.

********************

Aside from this a thousand lawyers have written jointly to the Government – Bindmans  lawyers have also written a long letter view here making a case that the Referendum decision must be debated and decided by Parliament. They make the point that the Referendum was not binding on parliament.  It follows that MPs should consider all aspects of the campaign.  The legal position on this will be made available within a short time. When it is it will be circulated.

****************

What to do if Brexit is likely to be triggered.

EXPAT CITIZENS RIGHTS in the EU

www.ecreu.com

Both in France and Spain a group of  professional media people are setting up web sites to collate information from British Citizens to intercede with politicians in Westminster – a kind of clearing house of  concerns.  The politicians need to understand these concerns.  The above link introduces this endeavour.  Sign up and detail the areas of your concerns.

Further  a facebook group is running as follows…

From France ‘RIFT’ Remain in France together (Solidarity in Europe). It is extending to citizens beyond France.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1765153230369304/

******

Early Day Motion – in Parliament.

34 MPs have signed this motion which shows great concern for the position of British Citizens in the EU as well as the EU citizens in the UK

http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2016-17/259

*******

The Theresa May Government has set up a department under David Davis to explore arrangements for Brexit.  So David Davis is the central figure to whom to present those concerns.

For a great many pensioners living in the EU there are two matters of considerable importance.

1. The protection of healthcare.

2. The continuance of the full State pension and associated Old Age and other Benefits (like the Winter Fuel payment, disability benefits).

David Davis email address is david.davis.mp@parliament.uk

For citizens of all ages….

The Right of current residence is probably under no threat. But the following Rights may be affected.

1. To move throughout the EU

2. To set up a business

3. To continue or move one’s work base.

 

You can yourself make representation to David Davis and any MP whom you could influence.  [don’t forget the truly crucial need for Votes-for-Life]

http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/

 

“Our ill-functioning democracy made a decision and now we must strenuously make a go of it”

by John Bird, Founder and editor-in-chief of THE BIG ISSUE

History is a great place to spend your time in if you want to get some balance about what is happening in the here-and-now

As the effects of Brexit reach down into the economy, I take a flight away from our islands to France to attend a writing group. It does feel different being in a country that for the last 43 years has been annexed to us; or us to them.

Forty-three years is a long time to be together; and then suddenly sundered apart. I look around at the green fields and the little cafes and do feel different from when I was here last.

The writing group is great. I come away feeling that I am on top of my ambition to finish my book about a fairy who is created to change history but who only manages it once over 410 years. Nippit-in-the-bud is a serious anti-idealist fairy, determined to stop human cock-ups but falls down constantly, aghast at the self-inflicted
sufferings that humans fashion for themselves.

I might have to add a chapter with Nippit-in-the-bud trying to talk Boris Johnson and his cohort of Brexiters out of it and, of course, failing in the process.

History is a great place to spend your time in if you want to get some balance about what is happening in the here-and-nowHistory is a great place to spend your time in if you want to get some balance about what is happening in the here-and-now. Unfortunately, as I suggested last week, Brexit is unprecedented in our history. So this is a first.

But first or not, we really need to make sense of this new world for us.

This week I have my first motion in the House of Lords, in which I ask the government to shift its emphasis to dismantling poverty, rather than maintaining people in it. I am a bit of a one-question man at the moment, and have tailored all my interventions to dismantling poverty.

The unfortunate thing is that government departments and their budgets are not geared to help mass dismantlement. They are often geared to keeping people in it, or even extending poverty. Which is unfortunate because all administrations that come and go leave a legacy of unfinished business around poverty.

Which allows the next lot to point out the foibles of the previous lot. That might be a bit of a waste of ‘poverty-ending energy’, you might say. I certainly say that on countless occasions.

Point-scoring on poverty is the way that much of the debate goes, with the poor caught in between. Neither invested in nor supported to rid themselves of the cancer of poverty.

They are left in the waiting room of poverty, where democracy does not get a look in. For if you live in poverty you are outside of society, unable to choose because choice is narrowed down to nothing.

Will our political separation from Europe bring us any nearer to the Valhalla of a poverty-free world? Will we always have the poor with us? Will Brexit deepen poverty or will it help end it for enough people to make it seem that it was a smart move?

A process of vigorous acceptance of Brexit is what I would advocate, largely because of the spilt-milk metaphor. We cannot look behind. Our ill-functioning democracy made a decision and now we must strenuously make a go of it. Else we will lose even the economic elastic in our economy to pay the amounts we do pay for people in need.

Not only are government departments not very good at ending poverty, our much-stretched NHS is no good at stopping people getting ill. They must put up with the illnesses that we have that could easily be phased out by ending sugar’s domination, and cigarettes’ and super-strength lager’s rule, to name but a few.

If the NHS could teach us all to get up in the morning and do tai chi and have a healthy food regime, then we might see a fall in obesity and other largely diet-related illnesses. But that would take a revolution in our thinking and doing.

But hang on! We’ve just separated ourselves from the continent! Maybe we could have a revolution! We could become an island of healthy eaters and healthy doers! We could totally reform the NHS so that it has less people to cater for! We could reform the prison system so that people went in bad and came out good! We could address the appalling situation where we fail 30 per cent of our children at school so as you’d never believe they had been to one! We could use that precious thing called the social security system to produce social opportunity and real security!

Let’s make the best of what almost half of the 72 per cent who voted call a bad job! Let’s revolutionise our thinking so that government gets it right, communities get it right and we get it right!

Yes! An intellectual, social revolution where, instead of us imitating the outside world’s continuation of poverty, our island demolishes it completely!

Then Nippit-in-the-bud might have a final chapter where he does redirect history! And we do take the magical step to dismantling poverty at last!

(Forgive the surfeit of exclamation marks. I promise to be back next week to my normal ration).

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John Bird is the Founder and Editor in Chief of The Big Issue. Email him: john.bird@bigissue.com or tweet: @johnbirdswords

Reprinted from THE BIG ISSUE 11th July

Brexit: The scavenging has begun

by Judi Seebus Editor in Chief  of Property EU

Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 12.46.32The UK’s historic referendum vote to leave the EU continued to dominate our coverage this week as it became increasingly clear that the outcome had taken politicians, financial markets and even a large portion of the public in Britain and Europe completely off guard.

During a meeting in Brussels with EU leaders on Tuesday, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte summed up the resultant turmoil very succinctly: ‘Britain has collapsed politically, monetarily, constitutionally and economically.’

Rutte made no bones about the fact that the havoc wreaked by the Brexit vote sends a strong and sobering message to populist leaders at home and elsewhere in Europe. ‘Anyone who thinks it is a good idea to leave the single market – this is what happens,’ he warned after an EU summit on Tuesday evening.

UK property stocks were dragged down in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote as trillions of euros were wiped off financial markets worldwide and the value of sterling plunged. Britain’s decision to leave the European Union has unleashed a crisis in financial markets similar to the global financial crisis of 2007 and 2008, George Soros told the European Parliament in Brussels, according to a report by newswire Bloomberg.

While some market commentators have said that the Brexit vote was not a Lehman moment, others would argue it is still too soon to call the market. Appeals for a soft Brexit have so far met with a hardened stance from EU leaders. After the initial shock of being jettisoned, the remaining 27 EU leaders have regrouped and appear now to be determined to turn this historic event to their advantage.

A very uncertain outcome

On Thursday, Boris Johnson bowed out of the Shakespearian tragedy that he helped create after a political assassination dashed his chances of pursuing the post of prime minister. Whoever does get the job faces a long period of tough negotiating ahead with a very uncertain outcome for the UK’s self-inflicted crisis. Even London’s longstanding dominance as the financial centre of Europe, if not the world, is no longer a given. French prime minister Francois Hollande has already seized upon the new situation that has arisen to call for the repatriation of the clearing of euro-denominated trading from the City of London to the Continent.In the Financial Times, Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite summed up the stoical mood on this side of the Channel. ‘Today it is about us. Of course we will move on. Who will stop us?’ she said.

London brokers have already lost some of their swagger. A high-profile advisor at one of the leading firms that PropertyEU contacted this week was unwilling to go on the record as saying that the London story was never in doubt and retracted the statement. Meanwhile, the real estate team at AXA Investment Managers tried to put on a brave face for the property press during a seminar in London on Tuesday.

Brexit is causing havoc on the markets but, like all crises, it can reveal opportunities to bold investors, Isabelle Scemama, head of funds group and management board member at AXA IM-Real Assets, told the assembled journalists. ‘This is a phase that may offer opportunities. We predict spreads widening earlier than previously anticipated.’Anne Kavanagh, global head of asset management and transactions at the investment manager, was somewhat more circumspect. The reality is that the vote has made a difficult situation worse, she said. ‘The investment market was already tough before Brexit and now we are seeing heightened uncertainty in the UK and on the Continent. With instability and volatility ahead, investors are moving into a risk-off, defensive mode.’

Contours of post-Brexit European landscape become visible

Beyond London, the contours of a post-Brexit European landscape may slowly be taking shape. In the aftermath of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, speculation has been rife about a mass exodus of financial firms from the City of London. Paris, Brussels, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Dublin have all been mooted as possible alternatives as international companies begin looking for new European bases on the Continent.

The prospect of the UK exiting the EU has one major implication for the financial sector: the ‘passport’ that gives UK-based banks unobstructed access to the EU trading zone will be at risk. And without the financial passport regime, the case for global financial firms basing their European operations in London is hugely diminished.

Large US banks including Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase have already been weighing up the options since the UK referendum was called. Felix Hufeld, head of the German financial market regulator Bafin, has also put pressure on London by saying the proposed merger between Deutsche Börse and the London Stock Exchange should not be located in the UK capital.

‘Without doubt it is hard to imagine that the most important exchange venue in the eurozone would be steered from a headquarters outside the EU,’ he said earlier this week.

At the other end of the telescope, several European capitals have reported a growing number of enquiries from London-based companies during the referendum campaign. In Belgium, prime minister Charles Michel is considering an advertising campaign to poach firms from the other side of the Channel.

‘I’m not interested in paying the bill for Brexit. From now on only European and Belgian interests count for me, not British ones,’ he told local newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws. ‘Many British companies are concerned that a Brexit will make access to the European market more difficult. In that case my message is a clear “Welcome to Belgium”.’

As the Brits desperately try to salvage what they can after the Brexit vote, the scavenging in mainland Europe has well and truly begun.

 

 

 

Your reading for July

by Susan Keefe

She Bites

by Roger Arsht and Caitlin Hawker
Product Details
A fast paced psychological murder, mystery.
Being an animal lover I immediately warmed to the lead character in this fast paced psychological murder mystery, what a woman! However I have to say at the beginning that this is no soppy animal story, it enters the horrific dog fighting world and some of the scenes and stories in it are very graphically written.
Robyn is a veterinarian, passionate about animals and angered and appalled at the poor dogs who are bought in to her, maimed and worse, sometimes by the perpetrators of the crime. Vile characters with no compassion, or thought for life, either human or animal. However the face she puts on at the surgery is a mask. Behind it lies another Robyn a woman whose past has made her the way she is, angry, deadly, passionate and vengeful.
Jack Williams is a police detective who has been put on leave following a horrific case. He has no memory of the details, the event was so traumatic that for his sanity his brain has blocking it out.
Then there is Lizzie, the Corgi, Jacks therapy dog who he takes to Robyn’s surgery for treatment.
As the friendship between Jack and Robyn develops he soon realises that she has a hidden side, one which she can’t always control – sometimes it comes to the surface, and when it does…
The characters both major and minor are very well written. From the colourful and haughty Ms. Smyth-Anders, to poor Doctor Oliver, a therapist with his own problems. As the story evolves we witness the day to day life at the veterinary surgery and police station, and behind the scenes in the shady world of dog fighting.
This book is like no other I have read, in some parts fascinating in a horrific way, yet there is also compassion and love. The plot is very cleverly written by its two talented authors and contains some very clever twists. Definitely for the reader who wants something different and very fast paced.

The Starlight Club 8: Elvis: Scarface, Goodfellas, Mob Guys & Hitmen

by Joe Corso
Product Details
All I can say is wow. After finishing The Starlight Club 7 on a cliff-hanger, and his fans not knowing if there would be another Starlight Club, the master of storytelling Joe Corso has once again well and truly pulled the cat out of the bag with this super story.
One of the endearing things to me is the way these Starlight stories start, with Bobby remembering a tale about the Starlight Club days, Red, Trenchie, Tarzan and all the gang. As he reminisces to his daughter Lynn, these wonderful stories of times gone past come to life, and how! The author is a master at taking you back to Queens, this time in the 1970’s and introducing you to its characters, gangsters, and celebrities. Personally, I think is the best book to date, and I have read them all.
In it we join Red as his dreams for the resurrection of the old Starlight Club are realised, and a new era begins, as, sad to be parted from his actress wife Tiffany, he decides to increase interest in the movie industry to building another studio, but this time in New York.
The main theme of this book, as the title suggests, is the supposed staged death of Elvis Presley. The author has thoroughly researched this hypothesis and the result is a story which is fascinatingly detailed and whether you have firm ideas before you read this, by the end you will find yourself wondering, could he still be alive? Is this book true?
However, as with all the Starlight books there are many subplots which feature all the well known and loved characters from the Starlight series. All these books can be read as a stand-alone, however the characters do follow through and evolve.
Just one of the subplots is when Trenchie, Red’s right hand man finds that a good deed goes wrong when he is called in to help, when the ex-first ladies daughter goes missing. However nothing could have prepared him for the ex-first lady herself or for the way the plot unfolds. This story could have been a book on its own!
Fans of the Starlight Club series will not be disappointed in this, the latest book. I have loved reading every page of this cleverly written story, laced with intrigue, murder, a thrilling storyline, and the lifetime’s experience this author has of living in Queens.

The Flautist

by John Needham
Product Details
When Leah Weisman , graduates from the Juilliard School of Music, the gifted daughter of rich parents, and marries, she believes that it’s for life. Still starry eyed, she goes with her husband to England for his work. However, finding work herself proves difficult, a chance friendship blossoms and she is happy, until she discovers she has been betrayed, and this changes her life forever.
Suddenly she finds herself alone, with no support from family, and she must make her own way in the world, and what a world it is. No longer the cosseted daughter, or loved wife, but a woman alone, she must make her own decisions and suffer the consequences, as they say.
There are a rich variety of characters in this book, all with their own interesting and very varied lives. As their stories unfold, and become entwined, the reader has first-hand experience of John Needham’s real gift of picking the reader up and settling them firmly in the story. We watch as they struggle with the highs and lows of everyday life. Feel the sensations as they enjoy moments of pleasure, and their grief when they deal with its tragedies.
At the end of the story we fast forward to 2021, and see what the future holds, which is lovely, and brings back for the characters, and the reader memories…
And generously, the author has given the lucky reader a chance to sample another of his wonderful stories before you go.
This is a book of love, passion, devotion, betrayal and a myriad of emotions in between which I for one will want to read more than once, as, like any good story, there will be, I am sure, hidden snippets which I have missed the first time around. Highly recommended.

 

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