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UK firms finding it harder to get staff after #Brexit: survey

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Growth in the number of workers hired in Britain via recruitment agencies slowed last month and fell in London for the first time in nearly a year as Brexit makes it harder for companies to find staff, a survey showed on Friday (6 October).

The IHS Markit/Recruitment and Employment Confederation said permanent roles filled by recruitment firms rose at the weakest pace in five months.

 The fall in placements in London reflected recruitment problems facing the financial sector in particular, REC’s monthly Report on Jobs showed.

A slowdown in the number European Union nationals coming to work in Britain had exacerbated a shortage of staff, REC said.

“Low-skill roles are also hard to fill in areas like food processing, warehouses and catering – sectors that employ a higher proportion of people from the EU than others across the economy,” REC Chief Executive Kevin Green said.

Last month the Bank of England said most of its policymakers believed that interest rates would probably need to rise from a record low in the coming months, if the economy and price pressures keep growing.

The central bank believes Brexit will reduce the number of migrants coming to Britain, pushing up pay and adding to inflation pressure.

The REC survey showed the sharpest fall in candidates for permanent jobs in four months while growth in starting salaries for permanent staff eased only slightly in September from August’s 22-month high.

Recent economic figures have painted a mixed picture of Britain’s economy.

New car registrations are on track for their first annual fall since 2011, while business surveys have shown falling confidence in the economic outlook after a slow first half of the year.

Earlier on Friday, accountancy firm BDO said overall like-for-like store sales rose by an annual 2.9% - the biggest rise in more than three years and adding to a smaller rise in August.

However, the increase was distorted by weak sales in September 2016, suggesting underlying growth remained slow.

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Brexit tensions are a test for Europe, says French minister

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French Junior Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune speaks during a press conference to outline France's strategy for the deployment of future COVID-19 vaccines, in Paris as the coronavirus disease outbreak continues in France, December 3, 2020. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/Pool

French European Affairs Junior Minister Clement Beaune (pictured) said on Monday (14 June) that current tensions over Brexit between British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government and the European Union were "a test" for Europe, Reuters.

The tensions between Britain and the EU threatened to overshadow the Group of Seven summit's conclusion on Sunday, with London accusing France of "offensive" remarks that Northern Ireland was not part of the United Kingdom. Read more.

"Mr Johnson thinks that you can sign deals with the Europeans and not respect them and that Europe will not react. It is a test for Europe," Beaune told Europe 1 radio.

"I am telling the British people, (Brexit) commitments must be respected... If it is not the case, retaliatory measures could be taken," Beaune added.

During talks with Emmanuel Macron at the G7 summit, Johnson queried how the French president would react if Toulouse sausages could not be sold in Paris markets, echoing London's accusation that the EU is preventing sales of British chilled meats in Northern Ireland.

"In Northern Ireland there are sausage import problems... Why? Because when you leave the European Union, you have necessarily some (trade) barriers," Beaune said.

"I cannot tell the French or the Europeans that Britain can export via (EU member) Ireland some products such as meat without any control... That is what it is all about. Brexit has consequences."

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Ex-EU Brexit negotiator Barnier: UK reputation at stake in Brexit row

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Head of the Task Force for Relations with the UK, Michel Barnier attendsthe debate on EU-UK trade and cooperation agreement during the second day of a plenary session at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium April 27, 2021. Olivier Hoslet/Pool via REUTERS

Michel Barnier, the European Union's former Brexit negotiator, said on Monday (14 June) that the reputation of the United Kingdom was at stake regarding tensions over Brexit.

EU politicians have accused British Prime Minister Boris Johnson of not respecting engagements made regarding Brexit. Growing tensions between Britain and the EU threatened to overshadow the Group of Seven summit on Sunday, with London accusing France of "offensive" remarks that Northern Ireland was not part of the UK. Read more

"The United Kingdom needs to pay attention to its reputation," Barnier told France Info radio. "I want Mr Johnson to respect his signature," he added.

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Germany’s Merkel urges pragmatic approach to Northern Ireland

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel (pictured) called on Saturday for a “pragmatic solution” to disagreements over part of the Brexit deal that covers border issues with Northern Ireland, Reuters Read more.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain will do "whatever it takes" to protect its territorial integrity in a trade dispute with the European Union, threatening emergency measures if no solution was found.

The EU has to defend its common market, Merkel said, but on technical questions there could be a way forward in the dispute, she told a news conference during a Group of Seven leaders' summit.

"I have said that I favour a pragmatic solution for contractual agreements, because a cordial relationship is of utmost significance for Britain and the European Union," she said.

Referring to a conversation she had with U.S. President Joe Biden about geopolitical issues, Merkel said they agreed that Ukraine must continue to remain a transit country for Russian natural gas once Moscow completes the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea.

The $11 billion pipeline will carry gas to Germany directly, something Washington fears could undermine Ukraine and increase Russia's influence over Europe.

Biden and Merkel are due to meet in Washington on July 15, and the strain on bilateral ties caused by the project will be on the agenda.

The G7 sought on Saturday to counter China's growing influence by offering developing nations an infrastructure plan that would rival President Xi Jinping's multi-trillion-dollar Belt and Road initiative. L5N2NU045

Asked about the plan, Merkel said the G7 was not yet ready to specify how much financing could be made available.

“Our financing instruments often are not as quickly available as developing countries need them,” she said

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