9. Weekly Newsletter
Northern Ireland Trade Deal
PM Sunak on Monday, 27th February, announced a “new chapter” in UK-EU relations after agreeing upon the ‘Windsor framework’ to change the existing Northern Ireland protocol. The details of the agreement are currently being reviewed by MPs with senior members within the party, such as former PM Theresa May MP, calling upon fellow MPs to support the Windsor framework. The leader of the opposition, Labour, also said that his party would support any deal which will improve the UK’s international standing.
The PM, at the Windsor news conference, announced that the agreement “delivers smooth-flowing trade within the whole United Kingdom, protects Northern Ireland’s place in our union and safeguards sovereignty for the people of Northern Ireland”. Goods travelling between Great Britain and Northern Ireland would be categorised as either being in the ‘green lane’ (transported goods from trusted traders that go to Northern Ireland only and exempt from checks or custom controls) or the ‘red lane’ (goods going to EU countries that will face full checks and custom controls).
Newspapers & Politics
The UK’s front page news cycle over the last seven days has covered a wide range of topics with analysis of the soon to voted upon Brexit deal dominating the headlines. HM King Charles and PM Sunak met with the EU Commission president, von der Leyen, to discuss the arrangements of the Northern Ireland protocol. The PM has described the deal as a “decisive breakthrough” and the opposition Labour Party has vowed to support the deal. Some of the newspaper front pages over the last week were:
- Daily Express: PM- My Brexit Deal ‘Now Takes Back Control’
- The Daily Telegraph: Sunak- My deal is a new way forward
- Financial Times: UK and EU set to seal Brexit deal on bitter Northern Ireland trade dispute
- The Independent: Starmer on course for landslide victory
- The Times: NHS wants to double medical school places
- Financial Times: Philip Morris sees ‘no hope’ of deal to sell Russian assets
- The Daily Telegraph: Public sector to be offered 3.5pc raise
- Daily Express: Rationing Of Fruit And Veg To Last Weeks
- The Times: Putin signals the return of Cold War nuclear tests
- The Guardian: Nurses pause strike action to enter ‘intensive’ pay talks
- Financial Times: Sunak weighs 5% public sector pay rise after £30bn Treasury windfall
- The Daily Telegraph: Send jets to Ukraine, Truss and Johnson tell PM
- Metro: Junior Docs [Doctors] to Strike
Current polling in the UK on national parliament voting intentions have shown fairly stable levels of support for the two largest parties with left-leaning Labour consistently around 48% (from 32.1% in 2019) and the right-leaning Conservatives at around 26% (from 43.6% in 2019).
UK Consumer Confidence Rises
Consumer confidence levels across the UK are near their highest levels since April last year as the public appears more optimistic about the year ahead. However, consumer confidence is “still severely depressed” according to GfK but now appears to show a sudden uptick in how people are viewing their personal finances and the general economic situation. Across the UK savings rates have also improved with some banks offering as much as 7% interest rates on their savings.
Additionally, January saw inflation decline to 10.1% following a peak of 11.1% In October. The government has also benefited from an unexpected £30bn windfall (in fiscal year to January). Reuters had previously forecast a £7.8bn deficit in public finances in January but official data registered a £5.4bn surplus for the month. However, government borrowing for the fiscal year to January still totalled £116.9bn despite beating forecasts by £30.6bn.