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Businesses’ Brexit fears dismissed

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Airbus: Warned of risk of capital flight

THE RECENT conduct of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has led to fears that the future of the UK’s business relationships with Europe are of secondary interest to senior government ministers.

A strongly-worded statement from the CBI, warning policy makers to ‘focus on business priorities and put evidence above political ideology’ was greeted with Mr Johnson remarking ‘f**k business’.

Those remarks were preceded by the Foreign Secretary being recorded saying that the border with Ireland was a minor issue of little consequence in the context of Brexit.

The CBI subsequently suggested that it will ensure negotiators on both sides ‘are well equipped with the unequivocal economic facts’.

Whether the facts fit the Foreign Secretary’s preconceptions of what Brexit might mean for the UK’s businesses is open to question.

AIRBUS RAISES STAKES

A similar gap between reality and ideology was exposed by the warning from Airbus that – in order to continue to comply with the European regulatory framework – it might have to move its base of operations from Broughton in Clwyd, where it supports 6,500 directly employed jobs and businesses and the economy over a much wider area.

In the absence of a Brexit agreement, UK aerospace companies will not be covered by existing approvals. More than 10,000 original aircraft parts originate in the UK, the manufacture of which is covered by tight regulations requiring certification by the European Aviation Safety Agency. Should a single parts supplier not be certified, its parts cannot be installed and aircraft will not be delivered.

If a supply chain agreement is not reached with the EU, the consequences for the aviation industry selling into the EU trading bloc will be a disaster for the UK.

BUSINESSES TOLD TO BUTT OUT

However, the unwelcome intervention of facts in the Brexit narrative roused Health Secretary Jeremy (H)unt to tell the BBC’s Andrew Marr that talking about job losses risked undermining the government in its negotiations with the EU.

“It was completely inappropriate for businesses to be making these kinds of threats, for one simple reason. We are in a critical moment in the Brexit discussions. We need to get behind Theresa May to deliver the best possible Brexit, a clean Brexit.”

Mr Hunt’s comments were supported by leading Brexit enthusiast Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for International Trade, who also suggested that businesses warning the government based on their own detailed knowledge of the regulatory regimes under which they work were somehow placing the UK Government’s negotiating position – which is as yet both unknown and possibly undetermined – at risk.

The key economic issue for businesses is ensuring the sort of continuity in trading arrangements which secures jobs and encourages investment. Large businesses need a significant amount of time to make decisions on the allocation of resources, particularly in the face of unpredictable trade policy by twitter approach of the US Government. Short of certainty, and faced with a capricious transatlantic trading partner which scraps trade agreements and treaties at short or no notice, businesses are understandably twitchy about their inability to plan and the absence of meaningful interaction with them by the UK Government’s crack Brexit team.

In a carefully-phrased statement to MPs, Business Secretary Greg Clark told MPs: “Any company and any industry that supports the livelihoods of so many working people in this country is entitled to be listened to with respect.

“The government has been clear that we are determined to secure a deal with the EU that meets the needs of our aerospace firms and the thousands of people whose livelihoods depend on them.”

IRISH TRADE KEY FOR WEST WALES

Meanwhile, businesses have struck back at the apparent indifference of the UK Government’s key Brexit ministers to the interests of businesses which stand to be affected directly should the UK reach no regulatory deal – or a poor regulatory deal – with the EU.

Business groups the CBI, Chambers of Commerce, Federation of Small Business, the Employers’ Federation, and the Institute of Directors are placing pressure on the government to reach agreement on trade, customs, and immigration.

Pembrokeshire’s MPs, Simon Hart in Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire and Stephen Crabb in Preseli Pembrokeshire, are in an intriguing position over the issue of Irish trade.

With major ferry ports in Pembroke Dock and Fishguard, both Conservatives have a dog in the race to ensure that trade with the Republic of Ireland is at least maintained at current levels.

100,000 lorries were carried to Ireland via ports in Pembrokeshire in 2015. Any disruption of that trade, by the introduction of customs and immigration checks for example, would significantly reduce the attractiveness of west Wales’ ports to businesses trading with Ireland. That is not, however, a one way street. The Irish Government is also keen to maintain access to the UK as an access point to mainland Europe.

While the ports are not in themselves major employers, the ‘ripple effect’ of any loss or reduction in through traffic and any subsequent job losses could be significant. And concerns have been magnified by Stena’s decision to scrap a significant investment plan in Fishguard.

When we asked to respond to the Foreign Secretary’s views on the Irish Border issue and the importance of trade with Ireland to Pembrokeshire, Simon Hart said: “I have spoken (very informally) to [Boris Johnson] to make that point, which he says he recognises. The border issue might be minor in the overall context of Brexit but it is nonetheless very important.”

Stephen Crabb told us: “I have said right from the start that the issues over trade between the UK and Ireland, including the question of the Northern Ireland border, are some of the most complex and important of the Brexit negotiations.

“For us in Pembrokeshire it is important because of our trade links with Rosslare and I have raised this matter with Ministers in Ireland, the Cabinet in Westminster. The commitment that the Prime Minister has given that there will be no additional trade barriers for East-West trade between the UK and Ireland is crucial and reflects the points that I and others have been putting to her.”

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Aldi launches Jubilee Street Party Fund with £500 vouchers being given away

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ALDI is calling on streets across the UK to enter a competition to win funding for the ultimate Jubilee bash.

The supermarket’s Jubilee Street Party Fund will see it give away a series of £500 Aldi vouchers to help communities up and down the country celebrate Her Majesty’s big day.

Ten lucky winners can use the vouchers to purchase food, drinks and decorations from Aldi’s Jubilee-inspired range, such as its Eton Mess Gin Liqueur and light-up, shimmering Strawberry and Mint Gin Liqueur, Specially Selected English Sparkling wines, Jubilee IPAs and Jubilee gourmet popcorn, giving them everything they need to toast the Queen’s reign.

Aldi’s Facebook page is hosting the competition, with entrants asked to tag their local community Facebook group or a friendly neighbour to be in with a chance of winning.

Entries are open from now until 8am on Thursday 26th May and T&Cs apply.

Winners will be contacted on Friday 27th May to allow plenty of time for them to stock up on all their street party essentials.

Richard Thornton, Communications Director at Aldi UK, said: “Winners of our Jubilee Street Party Fund competition will receive vouchers to buy all they need to celebrate this momentous occasion with their neighbours.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for communities to come together to organise their street parties, and look forward to seeing how the lucky winners of our competition decide to mark the big day.”

To find out more and enter the competition visit: https://fb.watch/db1SIlL-t5/

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Average UK price of diesel hits record of more than £1.80 a litre

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LESS than two months after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a 5p a litre cut on the average price of fuel – diesel prices have reached a record high price of 180.29p a litre.
The previous high of 179.90p was recorded on March 23rd 2022 – the day of the Spring Statement from Sunak.

In recent weeks, the UK government has tried to move away from its reliance on importing Russian oil, following President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Worryingly for drivers of petrol cars, the price per litre is fast approaching the record levels of 167.3p per litre set on March 22nd.

This latest price rise adds another challenge to UK households, as the cost of living crisis continues to impact families across the country.

RAC fuel spokesperson Simon Williams said: “Sadly, despite the Chancellor’s 5p a litre duty cut the average price of a litre of diesel has hit a new record high at 180.29p.”

“Efforts to move away from importing Russian diesel have led to a tightening of supply and pushed up the price retailers pay for diesel.”

“While the wholesale price has eased in the last few days this is likely to be temporary, especially if the EU agrees to ban imports of Russian oil.”

“Unfortunately, drivers with diesel vehicles need to brace themselves for yet more pain at the pumps. Had Mr Sunak reduced VAT to 15% as we call on him to do instead of cutting duty by 5p, drivers of diesel vehicles would be around 2p a litre better off, or £1 for every full tank.”

“As it is, drivers are still paying 27p VAT on petrol and 29p on diesel, which is just the same as before the Spring Statement.”

“The average price of petrol is also on the rise having gone up nearly 3p a litre since the start of the month to 166.65p which means it’s less than a penny away from the all-time high of 167.30p set on 22 March.”

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Beware of fake E.ON refund emails, warns Action Fraud

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ACTION FRAUD – the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime – has said scammers are impersonating Eon in an attempt to steal the recipient’s money and financial details.

The UK’s energy crisis has seen household utility bills rocket following the price cap increase this April, scammers are seeing this as an opportunity to fleece unsuspecting residents out of their hard-earned cash.

Action Fraud said today it has received 449 relating to fake emails – known as phishing – purporting to come from E.ON.

The emails state that the recipient is owed an £85 refund due to an ‘overcharge’.

Action Fraud has said the links to the emails lead to a ‘genuine-looking website’ but they are designed to steal a personal details.

Phishing is a method used by scammers, using fake emails or web links which look trustworthy and familiar, to gain access to sensitive information such as passwords and bank details or to infect your device with malware.

Phishing emails are a very common type of cyber attack and because they’re made to look like they’re from an official source, they’re easy to fall victim of.

They could be from a business you’re a customer of – your gas and electricity supplier, for example – asking you to manage your account or pay a bill.

If you’ve had a suspicious email from someone claiming to be from E.ON, forward it to phishing@eonenergy.com for their cyber security team to investigate, if you’re a customer or not, and then delete it immediately.

Email safety tips

E.ON has listed four things you can check if you’ve received an email claiming to be from us.

  1. Check the sender’s address

The senders email address may look trustworthy at first, but the name after the ‘@’ (the domain) can give you a clue as to whether it’s bogus. For example if the email is sent from: @eonHelpDeskUK.com, this is likely a malicious phishing attempt, as we’d only send emails from @eonenergy.com.

  1. Is the greeting personal?

A genuine email will address you by your full name, and not a generic term like ‘sir’, ‘madam’, or ‘loyal customer’.

  1. Be cautious

If you’re using a mouse, hover over any links you’re unsure of before clicking on them, just to see if the link address looks genuine. If you’re unsure, go to the website directly instead of using the link in the email.

  1. How does it look?

Check the grammar, tone and design of any emails which you receive. Look out for inconsistent fonts, unusual characters and punctuation.

Remember, if you’re unsure, forward the email to phishing@eonenergy.com and our cyber security team will investigate.

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