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17 March 2015

A spring in the step at the Lib Dem conference

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My personal `red line’ for coalition negotiations about Brexit after May 7th. Voters must be offered three options in an early referendum.

The Liberal Democrats (LDs) completed a remarkably successful spring conference in Liverpool last weekend. As electoral `experts’ are predicting that the Party’s MPs will fall from 57 currently perhaps to 14 (Electoral Calculus– probably the lowest amongst forecasters), party activists might have been expected to be in despair. But not a bit of it! Instead, they are aware that support is holding up much more strongly in many seats held by LD Parliamentarians than national opinion polls suggest.

Why the Brexit `boil’ must be lanced

The UK has become a country addicted to capital inflows to balance the massive current account deficit on payments with the rest of the world. This must be resolved sooner or later - quite separately from a reduction in the Government’s deficit.

The tide of warnings from leaders of industry and finance about the risk to inward investment has been rising sharply in recent months. They highlight the importance of access to the Single European Market (SEM) as a major reason to invest in the UK. So it was not surprising  that Business Secretary Vince Cable – the minister closest to the feelings of industry - warned in Liverpool that even a narrow referendum vote in favour of the UK remaining part of the EU would "scare off" overseas companies from investing in Britain. As he pointed out, “If the result is negative, or even close, it will leave Britain in a no-man's land: diminished, marginalised, and irrelevant.” That is hardly the climate to continue attracting £100 billion of capital inflows each and every year. The boil must be lanced.

Full article for consultancy clients

© Graham Bishop

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