Martin Flanagan: Chancellor tries to ease Brexit concerns

Chancellor Philip Hammond wants to reassure business that Brexit is not going to be quite as bad as the worst off-the-cliff, 'no deal is better than a bad deal' fears.

'It is questionable whether real EU clarity lies in Philip Hammond's gift,' writes Martin Flanagan. Picture: Neil Hanna
'It is questionable whether real EU clarity lies in Philip Hammond's gift,' writes Martin Flanagan. Picture: Neil Hanna

The trouble is we don’t know how much Theresa May still remains privately wedded to limiting immigrant numbers and not accepting the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

It is a mess. The government still maintains Britain is leaving the single market and the customs union so that it can cut trade deals with the rest of the world.

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After what it believes was the economic self-harming of the Brexit vote – a year today – business wants a solution that is as close and frictionless as possible to being in that market or customs union.

Failing that, business wants as long as possible transition arrangements to ease the difficulty of divorcing the EU and forging new trade agreements globally.

Meanwhile, fears grow that a mixture of Labour and the House of Lords will make May’s negotiations with the EU virtually unenforceable.

Was it just a few weeks ago, before the Prime Minister demonstrated the emotional intelligence of a desk printer, that we thought she was all set for a thumping majority in the general election, to give her more clout and less back seat driver complications in the Brexit negotiations?

Hammond can try to reassure a rattled business community all he wants. But it is questionable whether real EU clarity lies in his gift.

We are on a political and economic ride that is really something of a magical, mystery tour for all of us. Europe looks on bemused.

No light at the end of tunnel for oil

Concerns about the oil glut continue, with an accompanying light yo-yo-ing of stock markets. The oil price has been below $50 since the beginning of June.

Opec deals on limiting production with non-Opec members like Russia, which initially seemed to draw a line under some of the anxiety, now look as if they largely flattered to deceive.

It has now become a platitude, but there doesn’t seem anything currently in the dynamics of the energy industry to suggest why oil should make sizeable gains any time soon.

The industry’s state is exactly what it says on the barrel.