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Companies are saying the UK is ‘closed for business’ – here’s how it can become more open

A long-term view on building up British business is key to showing the UK is ‘open for business’.



Bright ideas for British business. Ayhan Turan/Shutterstock

Tech sector complaints about the difficulties of doing business in the UK have been repeated more recently by the manufacturing sector. A decade of “flip-flopping” by the government has left the UK without an industrial strategy, according to Make UK, which represents industrial and manufacturing employers.

Read more: Why post-Brexit Britain is still open for business – despite what Microsoft says

The UK’s economic future certainly looks a lot brighter than last year, when it was dealing with the aftermath of the short but financially calamitous tenure of ex-prime minister Liz Truss. But there’s still concern that the economy will continue to decline.

In early April, the International Monetary Fund’s outlook for 20 major economies predicted the UK would be one of only two G7 economies to contract this year, alongside Germany.

There are worrying parallels with the mid-1970s, when Britain was seen as the “sick man of Europe” just after joining the European Economic Community. A Financial Times editorial from February suggested the UK is now “the sick man of the developed world”.

Reasons for the UK’s decline

There are a number of possible business-related drivers behind this decline. Some economists believe the quality of management in British companies is the worst in the G7, while thinktank the Institute for Public Policy Research says investment by British business has also been among the lowest in the G7 in recent years. This undermines innovation and development that is essential for competitiveness.

Training and education to ensure workers have up-to-date skills is no longer regarded as essential by many companies. And finally, the University of Oxford’s Migration Observatory contends the growing reliance on cheap migrant labour from abroad has also hobbled UK businesses.

Business confidence and investment are suffering as a result, with implications for jobs and innovation recovery following COVID-19 lockdowns. Leaving the EU has also created problems for businesses. Data from the British Chamber of Commerce demonstrates a growing view that the UK has effectively imposed sanctions on itself.

Further, while the Conservative party once prided itself on listening to business, in recent years it has failed to create much-needed certainty. Major companies have warned that continued commotion within government could damage prospects for raising additional finance for future growth.

As a former chancellor, the prime minister Rishi Sunak recognises the monumental difficulties of repairing the damage wrought on public finances by COVID, and made worse by the energy crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But as chancellor, he set in motion plans to raise corporation tax from 19% to 25%.

Sunak justifies this tax rise as essential to restoring integrity to the management of public finances – but it jettisons a pledge to lower taxes that is central to Conservative ideology.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak waving outside 10 Downing Street.
Rishi Sunak assumed office in October 2022 following a short but disastrous tenure by Liz Truss. I.T.S./Shutterstock

Boosting British business again

The remainder of this year and early 2024 will see all political parties explaining how they intend to deal with these impediments to economic growth. This is likely to include cutting regulations and increasing support for green investment. But what else needs to be addressed?

One major task will be to encourage infrastructure investment, to improve the woefully inefficient movement of goods and people within the UK. This is especially important since massive delays and overspending mean HS2 is unlikely to be the silver bullet needed to encourage business investment outside of London and Birmingham.

In addition, the UK’s tax regime is archaic and confusing, and its stock market listing rules are seen as cumbersome and expensive. UK regulator the Financial Conduct Authority has proposed changes, but businesses including chip manufaturer Arm have already decided to list elsewhere. Smaller companies operating without any additional capacity to cope with change or new rules could also quickly become frustrated with the bureaucracy.

And although there are many investors and businesses that are exemplary in their approach to investment and treatment of their workers, some avail of lax regulation to engage in exploitation. As the Salvation Army reported last year, “modern slavery” is on the rise in this country.

Concerns also continue about so-called “zombie companies”, which merely survive through reliance on time-consuming effort and public finance. On the other hand, rising returns by companies that have benefited from the current economic environment – energy majors, for example – have raised questions about what is fair and how much tax should be paid by many companies.

Read more: UK energy windfall tax: what it is and why it needs to change

Business-friendly fixes

The solutions are well understood and often broadly accepted, starting with a simpler and more logical tax system. Random dumping of EU legislation, particularly food and environmental standards, is also increasingly recognised as damaging for the country. As Sunak seems to recognise, having agreed the Windsor Framework, it’s better to improve relations with the EU and work with it to streamline rules on trade.

Equally, as the pandemic showed, there are radically different ways to live. This includes having homes that are more energy efficient and suitable for both living and working. Addressing the urgent need for affordable homes, particularly for younger workers who are priced off the housing ladder and excluded from the rental sector, will support the future workforce.

The UK needs its policymakers to be far more adventurous and understanding of, not just contemporary requirements of business, but change that has not yet occurred. Former senior civil servant and now chief-executive of Make UK, Stephen Phipson, contends that successive governments have been hooked on “short-term quick fixes”. He says greater stability is essential for businesses to prosper, and for the collective good.

As the most successful businesses, particularly technology firms, demonstrate, constant enquiry and innovation is non-negotiable. But this applies to countries too. It is unlikely to happen, though, under the current government’s “what will work today?” approach.

Steven McCabe does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Von Der Leyen Speech Suggests Russia Dropped Nuke On Hiroshima 

Von Der Leyen Speech Suggests Russia Dropped Nuke On Hiroshima 

Von der Leyen just said what?…

This past Wednesday, President of the European…



Von Der Leyen Speech Suggests Russia Dropped Nuke On Hiroshima 

Von der Leyen just said what?...

This past Wednesday, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen delivered a speech before the 2023 Atlantic Council Awards in New York, where she sounded the alarm over the specter of nuclear war centered on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. But while invoking remembrance of the some 78,000 civilians killed instantly by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of WWII, she said her warning comes "especially at a time when Russia threatens to use nuclear weapons once again". She  actually framed the atomic atrocity in a way that made it sound like the Russians did it. Watch:

There was not one single acknowledgement in Von der Leyen's speech that it was in fact the United States which incinerated and maimed hundreds of thousands when it dropped no less that two atomic bombs on Japanese cities.

Here were her precise words, according to an Atlantic Council transcript...

You, dear Prime Minister, showed me the meaning of this proverb during the G7 summit in Japan last year. You brought us to your hometown of Hiroshima, the place where you have your roots and which has deeply shaped your life and leadership. Many of your relatives lost their life when the atomic bomb razed Hiroshima to the ground. You have grown up with the stories of the survivors. And you wanted us to listen to the same stories, to face the past, and learn something about the future.

It was a sobering start to the G7, and one that I will not forget, especially at a time when Russia threatens to use nuclear weapons once again. It is heinous. It is dangerous. And in the shadow of Hiroshima, it is unforgivable

The above video of that segment of the speech gives a better idea of the subtle way she closely associated in her rhetoric the words "once again" with the phrase "shadow of Hiroshima" while focusing on what Russia is doing, to make it sound like it was Moscow behind the past atrocities.

Via dpa

Russian media not only picked up on the woefully misleading comments, but the Kremlin issued a formal rebuke of Von der Leyen's speech as well:

In response to von der Leynen's remarks, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused the European Commission president of making "no mention whatsoever of the US and its executioners who dropped the bombs on populated Japanese cities."

Zakharova responded on social media, arguing that von der Leyen's assertions on Moscow's supposed intentions to employ nuclear weapons "is despicable and dangerous" and "lies."

Some Russian embassies in various parts of the globe also highlighted the speech on social media, denouncing the "empire of lies" and those Western leaders issuing 'shameful' propaganda and historical revisionism.

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/24/2023 - 13:15

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Saudi Arabia Sentences Schoolgirl To 18 Years In Prison Over Tweets

Saudi Arabia Sentences Schoolgirl To 18 Years In Prison Over Tweets

Via Middle East Eye,

Saudi Arabia has sentenced a secondary schoolgirl…



Saudi Arabia Sentences Schoolgirl To 18 Years In Prison Over Tweets

Via Middle East Eye,

Saudi Arabia has sentenced a secondary schoolgirl to 18 years in jail and a travel ban for posting tweets in support of political prisoners, according to a rights group.

On Friday, ALQST rights group, which documents human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, revealed that the Saudi Specialised Criminal Court handed out the sentence in August to 18-year-old Manal al-Gafiri, who was only 17 at the time of her arrest.

Via Reuters

The Saudi judiciary, under the de facto rule of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has issued several extreme prison sentences over cyber activism and the use of social media for criticising the government.

They include the recent death penalty against Mohammed al-Ghamdi, a retired teacher, for comments made on Twitter and YouTube, and the 34-year sentence of Leeds University doctoral candidate Salma al-Shehab over tweets last year.

The crown prince confirmed Ghamdi's sentence during a wide-ranging interview with Fox News on Wednesday. He blamed it on "bad laws" that he cannot change

"We are not happy with that. We are ashamed of that. But [under] the jury system, you have to follow the laws, and I cannot tell a judge [to] do that and ignore the law, because... that's against the rule of law," he said.

Saudi human rights defenders and lawyers, however, disputed Mohammed bin Salman's allegations and said the crackdown on social media users is correlated with his ascent to power and the introduction of new judicial bodies that have since overseen a crackdown on his critics. 

"He is able, with one word or the stroke of a pen, in seconds, to change the laws if he wants," Taha al-Hajji, a Saudi lawyer and legal consultant with the European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights, told Middle East Eye this week.

According to Joey Shea, Saudi Arabia researcher at Human Rights Watch, Ghamdi was sentenced under a counterterrorism law passed in 2017, shortly after Mohammed bin Salman became crown prince. The law has been criticised for its broad definition of terrorism.

Similarly, two new bodies - the Presidency of State Security and the Public Prosecution Office - were established by royal decrees in the same year.

Rights groups have said that the 2017 overhaul of the kingdom's security apparatus has significantly enabled the repression of Saudi opposition voices, including those of women rights defenders and opposition activists. 

"These violations are new under MBS, and it's ridiculous that he is blaming this on the prosecution when he and senior Saudi authorities wield so much power over the prosecution services and the political apparatus more broadly," Shea said, using a common term for the prince.

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/24/2023 - 11:30

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Biden To Join UAW Picket Line As Strike Expands, Good Luck Getting Repairs

Biden To Join UAW Picket Line As Strike Expands, Good Luck Getting Repairs

Authored by Mike Shedlock via,

In a symbolic, photo-op…



Biden To Join UAW Picket Line As Strike Expands, Good Luck Getting Repairs

Authored by Mike Shedlock via,

In a symbolic, photo-op gesture to win union votes, Biden will head to Michigan for a token visit.

Biden to Walk the Picket Line

Taking Sides

CNN had some Interesting comments on Biden Talking Sides.

Jeremi Suri, a presidential historian and professor at University of Texas at Austin, said he doesn’t believe any president has ever visited a picket line during a strike.

Presidents, including Biden, have previously declined to wade into union disputes to avoid the perception of taking sides on issues where the negotiating parties are often engaged in litigation.

On September 15, the day the strike started, Biden said that the automakers “should go further to ensure record corporate profits mean record contracts for the UAW.”

Some Democratic politicians have been urging Biden to do more. California Rep. Ro Khanna on Monday told CNN’s Vanessa Yurkevich that Biden and other Democrats should join him on the picket line.

“I’d love to see the president out here,” he said, arguing the Democratic Party needs to demonstrate it’s “the party of the working class.”

UAW Announces New Strike Locations

As the strike enters a second week, UAW Announces New Strike Locations

UAW President Shawn Fain called for union members to strike at noon ET Friday at 38 General Motors and Stellantis facilities across 20 states. He said the strike call covers all of GM and Stellantis’ parts distribution facilities.

The strike call notably excludes Ford, the third member of Detroit’s Big Three, suggesting the UAW is more satisfied with the progress it has made on a new contract with that company.

General Motors plants being told to strike are in Pontiac, Belleville, Ypsilanti, Burton, Swartz Creek and Lansing, Michigan; West Chester, Ohio; Aurora, Colorado; Hudson, Wisconsin; Bolingbrook, Illinois; Reno, Nevada; Rancho Cucamonga, California; Roanoke, Texas; Martinsburg, West Virginia; Brandon, Mississippi; Charlotte, North Carolina; Memphis, Tennessee; and Lang Horne, Pennsylvania.

The Stellantis facilities going on strike are in Marysville, Center Line, Warren, Auburn Hills, Romulus and Streetsboro, Michigan; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Plymouth, Minnesota; Commerce City, Colorado; Naperville, Illinois; Ontario, California; Beaverton, Oregon; Morrow, Georgia; Winchester, Virginia; Carrollton, Texas; Tappan, New York; and Mansfield, Massachusetts.

Contract Negotiations Are Not Close

Good Luck Getting Repairs

Party of the Working Cass, Really?

Let’s discuss the nonsensical notion that Democrats are the party of the “working class”.

Unnecessary stimulus, reckless expansion of social services, student debt cancellation, eviction moratoriums, earned income credits, immigration policy, and forcing higher prices for all, to benefit the few, are geared towards the “unworking class”.

On top of it, Biden wants to take away your gas stove, end charter schools to protect incompetent union teachers, and force you into an EV that you do not want and for which infrastructure is not in place.

All of this increases inflation across the board as do sanctions and clean energy madness.

Exploring the Working Class Idea

If you don’t work and have no income, Biden may make your healthcare cheaper. If you do work, he seeks to take your healthcare options away.

If you want to pay higher prices for cars, give up your gas stove, be forced into an EV, subsidize wind energy then pay more for electricity on top of it, you have a clear choice. If you support those efforts, by all means, please join him on the picket line for a token photo-op (not that you will be able to get within miles for the staged charade).

But if you can think at all, you understand Biden does not support the working class, he supports the unworking class.

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/24/2023 - 10:30

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