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Parliament to vote on Article 50, Supreme Court rules

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The Supreme Court has handed down its ruling on the government’s Article 50 obligations, with Parliament being given a vote to trigger the Brexit process.

The 11-judge court’s majority ruling was led by its president, Lord Neuberger, and has established that “the change in the law required to implement the referendum’s outcome must be made in the only way permitted by the UK constitution, namely by legislation,” the judges said in the summary of their judgement.

“The Supreme Court holds that an act of parliament is required to authorise ministers to give notice of the decision of the UK to withdraw from the European Union.” The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish devolved assemblies will not be given a say in matters.

Attorney general Jeremy Wright said that the government is “disappointed” but will comply, while Downing Street reacted: “The British people voted to leave the EU, and the government will deliver on their verdict – triggering Article 50, as planned, by the end of March. Today’s ruling does nothing to change that.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says that his party will work to amend the Article 50 Bill but not block it, while the Lib Dems will not vote for it without a referendum on the final deal.

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Britain “open for business” says May at Davos

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UK Prime Minister Theresa May addressed trade, globalisation and Brexit at Davos this morning in a keynote World Economic Forum speech.

May, who set out a Brexit strategy for the first time earlier this week, used the opportunity to speak in more general terms about the issues of the day – particularly globalisation and the UK’s place in the world.

“The United Kingdom – a country that has so often been at the forefront of economic and social change – will step up to a new leadership role as the strongest and most forceful advocate for business, free markets and free trade anywhere in the world,” she said.

May also said that the Brexit vote was a choice on the part of voters “to build a truly global Britain” and said that critics and said that international critics have failed to understand voters’ motivation.

She also focused on the pressures facing international institutions. “I believe strongly in a rules based global order. The establishment of the institutions that give effect to it in the mid twentieth century was a crucial foundation for much of the growing peace and prosperity the world has enjoyed since. And the tragic history of the first half of the last century reminds us of the cost of those institutions’ absence,” she said.

May said that Britain is “open for business” but set out a need for better corporate governance and social responsibility if globalisation is to attract popular support. “That is why I have talked a great deal about our country delivering yet higher standards of corporate governance, to help make the UK the best place to invest of any major economy.

“That means several things,” she said. “It means businesses paying their fair share of tax, recognising their obligations and duties to their employees and supply chains, and trading in the right way; companies genuinely investing in – and becoming part of – the communities and nations in which they operate, and abiding by the responsibilities that implies; and all of us taking steps towards addressing executive pay and accountability to shareholders.”

The prime minister concluded by referring to “that great Conservative principle – change in order to conserve”. “I am determined to make sure that centre-ground, mainstream politics can respond to the concerns people have today. I am determined to stand up for free markets, free trade and globalisation, but also to show how these forces can work for everyone,” she said.

This year’s Davos conference concludes tomorrow.

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DEBATE: Three months on from Brexit, has it benefitted UK business?

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Accountancy software firm heads Ed Molyneux of FreeAgent and Lee Murphy of Pandle debate whether the Brexit vote was a big blow to business

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Ed Molyneux, co-founder and CEO of FreeAgent says: “Following the referendum result I believed that ‘Brexit’ would be a big blow to the UK’s micro-business sector and I still believe this to be the case.”

“In the run up to the vote, the overwhelming majority of micro-business owners and freelancers were in favour of the UK remaining in the EU because they didn’t think a ‘Brexit’ would be beneficial for their own businesses or the economy in general.”

“Three months on from the vote, micro-businesses, which comprise around 95% of the UK’s total number of companies, have seen no immediate advantages from Britain’s decision to leave the EU. These businesses are actually in a state of limbo instead, as they are in for a lengthy period of uncertainty while negotiations take place over the terms of the UK’s exit.”

“I would urge the government to be as swift as possible in providing updates about how these discussions are progressing, and give every business owners in the UK clear, up-to-date information about what the effects of Brexit, whenever it does happen, will be on important issues such as trade and tax. British micro-businesses cannot be kept in the dark, given their immense contribution to the economy.”

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“Despite the fallout from Brexit many European businesses are still looking to set up shop in the UK,” counters Lee Murphy, owner of Pandle.

“Undoubtedly a few European business owners have been apprehensive about setting up in the UK because of Brexit, but as a firm we’re still taking on a lot of European clients. I believe the impact of the UK leaving the EU will be even less severe in the long term as it’s very unlikely that the EU would prevent reasonably free trade with the UK as it’s the biggest importer of European goods – at around 16% of all European exports.”

“British SMEs are resilient, and in recent years exports from the UK to non-EU countries have grown at a much faster rate than UK goods exports to the EU states. In fact, since 2007 we’ve seen exports of goods to non-EU countries rise by 54%, whilst goods exports to EU countries rose only by 15%.”

“At the moment trade agreements cannot be made with the UK directly, but rather with the EU as a whole. So post-Brexit, it’s likely the UK will make trade deals with preferred partners on terms which UK businesses can benefit from.”

“It’s important that, three months on from Brexit, small businesses don’t lose faith in the British economy and continue to prosper – as they have, and always will.”

“At the moment trade agreements cannot be made with the UK directly, but rather with the EU as a whole. So post-Brexit, it’s likely the UK will make trade deals with preferred partners on terms which UK businesses can benefit from.”

“It’s important that, three months on from Brexit, small businesses don’t lose faith in the British economy, and continue to prosper – as they have, and always will.”