Brexit is a ‘massive economic opportunity’: PM Johnson

Boris Johnson won the PM race against Jeremy Hunt, and became the new leader of the UK Conservative Party. (File/AFP)
Updated 27 July 2019

Brexit is a ‘massive economic opportunity’: PM Johnson

  • Johnson promised to step up negotiations on post-Brexit trade deals and set up free ports to boost the economy
  • Johnson promises to give more powers to local communities, as well as boost broadband and transport infrastructure

MANCHESTER: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday said Brexit was a “massive economic opportunity” but had been treated under his predecessor Theresa May as “an impending adverse weather event.”
In a speech in Manchester where he pledged new investment in Leave-voting areas, Johnson promised to step up negotiations on post-Brexit trade deals and set up free ports to boost the economy.
“When people voted to leave the European Union, they were not just voting against Brussels, they were voting against London too,” he said.
Johnson promises to give more powers to local communities, as well as boost broadband and transport infrastructure in a speech focused on domestic issues.
“Taking back control doesn’t just apply to Westminster regaining sovereignty from the EU, it means our cities and counties and towns becoming more self governing,” he said.
“Leaving the EU is a massive economic opportunity to do things we’ve not been allowed to do for decades,” he said.
Asked about the prospect of Brexit negotiations, Johnson said he was willing to engage with EU partners but only if the backstop clause was removed from the current divorce agreement struck by May.
The backstop seeks to ensure a free-flowing post-Brexit border between British Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member state, in all eventualities.
“The approach of the UK government is not going to be disengaged or aloof or waiting for them to come to us, we are going to try to solve this problem,” he said.
“We can’t do it as long as that anti-democratic backstop, that backstop that seeks to divide our country, divide the UK, remains in place. We need to get it out and then we can make progress.”


Oil prices fall but losses limited by Brexit deal hopes

Updated 18 October 2019

Oil prices fall but losses limited by Brexit deal hopes

  • US retail sales in September fell for the first time in seven months adding to economy fears

LONDON: Oil prices fell on Thursday as industry data showed a larger than expected increase in US inventories but losses were limited after Britain and the EU announced they had reached a deal on Brexit.

Global benchmark Brent crude was down 37 cents at $59.05 in afternoon London trade while US WTI crude was also down 37 cents, at $52.99.

US crude inventories soared by 10.5 million barrels to 432.5 million barrels in the week to Oct. 11, the American Petroleum Institute’s weekly report showed, ahead of official government stocks data.

Analysts had estimated US crude inventories rose by 2.8 million barrels last week.

“US sanctions imposed on Chinese shipping company COSCO are seriously denting demand for imported crude ... This has a profound impact on US crude oil inventories as reflected in last night’s API report,” said Tamas Varga, an analyst at PVM Oil Associates.

“US refinery maintenance is not helping to reverse the current trend and further builds in US crude oil inventories can be expected in the next few weeks.”

The US imposed sanctions on COSCO Shipping Tanker (Dalian) and subsidiary COSCO Shipping Tanker (Dalian) Seaman & Ship Management for allegedly carrying Iranian oil.

Adding to concerns about the global economy — and therefore oil demand — data from the US showed retail sales in September fell for the first time in seven months. Earlier data showed a moderation in job growth and services sector activity.

Nevertheless, Brexit developments helped limit oil’s decline. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain and the EU had agreed a “great” new deal and urged lawmakers to approve it when they meet for a special session at the weekend.

Analysts have said any agreement that avoids a no-deal Brexit should boost economic growth and oil demand.

However, the Northern Irish party whose support Johnson needs to help ratify any agreement, has said that it refused to support the pact.

Hopes of a potential US-China trade deal also supported oil. The commerce ministry in Beijing said China hoped to reach a phased agreement with Washington as early as possible.

But the German government has lowered its 2020 forecast for economic growth to 1 percent from 1.5 percent, the economy ministry said. It said Germany, Europe’s largest economy, was not facing a crisis.