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Friday's Business and Politics round-up

13 Jul 2018

Person reading the IoD's news round up with breakfast

Good morning!

Sometimes it seems happy news is in short supply.

Start your weekend off right and read the eastern quoll has been born in Australia for the first time in 50 years.

The polka-dotted marsupial, known as Australia’s native cat, was driven to extinction decades ago. It has been brought back into the wild thanks to a conservation and breeding programme.

Impossibly cute and impossible not to smile. Thanks for tuning in and have a great weekend!

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American express

Trump has dealt a blow to May’s newly-unveiled plan for Brexit by saying it would “probably kill” a trade deal with the US. 

“If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the UK”, he commented.

He added the Prime Minister neglected to take his advice to take a tougher stance on the EU in the negotiations, saying May has gone “the opposite way” in her approach. 

The President’s remarks were made before his arrival to the UK for his first state visit to the Britain. Last night he attended a dinner with the Prime Minister at Blenham Palace. Today, he is expected to meet May again for lunch at Chequers before meeting with the Queen.

Just yesterday, the Government published its white paper on Brexit which includes proposals for a free trade area with the EU for goods.

A future trade deal with the US has been touted by many as a big prize in Brexit, though the UK cannot start negotiations with third countries until it has formally left the EU in March 2019.

White noise

The Government released its Brexit proposals in a white paper published yesterday. 

The blueprint outlines a plan for a free trade area with the EU on goods and agricultural products, as well as a common rulebook with the EU and continued harmonisation.

The Prime Minister said the plan “delivers on the Brexit people voted for”. It builds on the agreement reached last week by Cabinet ministers at Chequers – which led to the resignations of David Davis and Boris Johnson earlier this week.

Responding to the white paper, IoD Director General Stephen Martin welcomed the “vital meat on the bones of the Chequers plan”, but added there are many questions that remain unanswered.

He said more clarity is required on areas such as VAT arrangements, dispute resolution mechanisms and the services sector. However, “the biggest question mark looms over what will replace freedom of movement”. 

Looking ahead, Stephen said “EU negotiators now have specific details to build upon, and we strongly urge them to respond constructively”.

Not loving the levy

New statistics from the Department for Education show there has been a 34% fall in the amount of people starting apprenticeships.

In the first nine months of 2017/2018, the number decreased to 290,500. The Government has a target of three million people starting apprenticeships by 2020.

The fall in take-up has been blamed on the Apprenticeship Levy introduced in April 2017, which obliges some businesses to pay money into a fund which can then be drawn from to fund training.

IoD Director of Policy Edwin Morgan said the data “does not make for pleasant reading”, adding that if this trend continues, “it does not look possible for the Government to meet its target”.

He also said firms have “raised valid concerns around the complexity and rigidity” of the Apprenticeship Levy system. While business leaders see improving skills as a priority, “it’s now time for Government to rethink its approach and work with businesses” to reform the levy.

Suggestions posed by trade bodies to reform the levy include granting companies increased flexibility in how they can handle the funds and having more time to use their contributions into the fund.

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Donjeta Miftari, Media Relations Manager

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