Morning briefing: Unattractive UK - Hunt's holiday hiatus - new Brexit legal challenge
We’ve seen the biggest drop in EU citizens working in the UK since records began - despite low levels of unemployment and plenty of vacancies to fill. While Brexiters may hail this as a good thing, in reality it highlights how the referendum vote has depressed wages and clobbered the pound making working here less attractive. This vote of no confidence in the economy will further damage our public services and our prosperity.
The number of EU workers dropped by 86,000 in the three months between April and June compared with figures a year earlier, the ONS revealed. This was driven by a 117,000 decrease in workers from Poland and seven other Eastern European countries. The number from older EU member states such as Germany, France and Italy also dropped by 23,000, while there was a rise in Romanian and Bulgarian workers by over 50,000.
With a no-deal Brexit looking increasingly possible, EU citizens have no idea whether they’ll be able to stay in the country after March 2019. The plunging pound and booming economies in Eastern Europe make moving to the UK for work - or staying here - less appealing.
Meanwhile, the NHS has seen a sharp rise in EU staff leaving since the Brexit vote and a drop in new applications from the bloc. In the private sector, industries from construction and hospitality to finance and fruit picking are losing key workers. Earlier this week, human resources chiefs reported a “supply shock” across the economy with skills shortages left by a shortfall in EU workers.
As EU workers leave, we are plugging the gap by more migration from outside the bloc - the number of non-EU workers in the UK rose by 74,000 in the latest figures. But that won’t be enough to stop our economy becoming less attractive and less competitive on the global stage.
HAVE YOU SIGNED THE PETITION FOR A PEOPLE'S VOTE?
Quote of the day
“This uncertainty... as well as the emotional burden that the separation of migrant families entails, means that some Polish people, who have been living in the UK for years, might have decided to return to Poland or would have held the decision to come to the UK.”
Arkady Rzegocki, Polish ambassador to the UK
Graphic of the day
The latest GDP growth figures since October 1st 2017 show that Britain has slumped to towards the bottom of the EU growth league, only ahead of Italy. We've gone from being the fastest growing in the G7 to this.
It's time for a People's Vote on the final Brexit deal
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Hunt’s holiday hiatus
It’s a slow week for Brexit news, presumably because all the politicians are on holiday. All of them, that is, except Jeremy Hunt. The new foreign secretary is zipping round EU capitals, trying to sell Theresa May’s unloved Chequers proposal. He’s urging a “change in approach” from the European Commission and a move forward in the Brexit talks.
He’s unlikely to get much of either. While technical talks between the UK and EU are resuming tomorrow, it remains unclear whether an anticipated press conference between Michel Barnier and Brexit secretary Dominic Raab will go ahead next week - dependant as it is on some actual progress being made. There is also little sense of a change in tack towards Brexit across Europe, with Angela Merkel this week emphasising that if the UK wants to continue benefiting from its relationship with the EU it “must commit to re-accepting EU rules”.
The Chequers proposal has no support in the EU and is shedding what little support it had in the UK as the public realise what a bad outcome it would be for the country. As a result, the risks of a "blind Brexit" or a disastrous no-deal Brexit are growing by the day.
Tweet of the day
Condiment legend Levi Roots backs a People's Vote!
Graphic of the day 2
Household bills in Scotland have taken a beating, increasing by more than £400 a year since the 2016 referendum. Scottish families are already feeling the Brexit 'price bump' in their pockets.
This is why we need a People's Vote.
More Brexit news…
Tweet of the day 2
A potentially very interesting tweet here from journalist Ian Birrell.
Top Brexit comment
Jane Golding: Brexit will ruin the lives of British citizens in Europe. We deserve a vote (Guardian)
Hugo Dixon: Punch and Judy debates do not make BBC neutral (Times £)
Video of the day
WATCH: Janet voted to leave the EU in 2016 but is now demanding a People's Vote on the final Brexit deal because of the damage that it has caused.
Today, Wednesday 15 August
|-||Parliament in recess|
|-||Jeremy Hunt touring EU capitals|
|09:30||ONS: Consumer price inflation figures published|
Tomorrow, Thursday 16 August
|-||Parliament in recess|
|-||Brexit negotiations in Brussels: technical talks on Norther Ireland|
|09:30||ONS: Retail sales figures published|