Following last week’s developments and Downing Street resignations, Johnson made a small but significant reshuffle to his team in an attempt to regain support from disgruntled MPs and ensure party discipline. The reshuffle included Jacob Rees-Mogg moving to the newly formed position, Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency. One of Rees-Mogg’s aims is to deliver on the government’s ambition to make the UK’s coastline the “world’s most effective border” by 2025. However, only this week the country’s leading logistics trade body, Logistics UK stated that independent modelling suggested upwards of 29 miles of queues at Folkstone and Dover caused by potential delays around the government’s flagship, Entry and Exit System later in the year.
Moreover, yesterday a report published by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) – which acts as parliaments spending watchdog – saw that the costs to businesses had increased while trade had decreases as a result of Brexit. Like Logistics UK, it has also voiced concerns over the forthcoming import controls which it argues could exacerbate exiting issues.
During the reshuffle, Johnson also appointed the hard-line Brexiter, Chris Heaton-Harris as his new Chief Whip. Heaton-Harris is arguably one of Boris’ closest confidants and is thought to have held a prominent role in ‘Operation Save Big Dog’ which has sought to maintain Johnson’s leadership position. These small changes therefore indicate how Johnson’s has pivoted towards prominent Brexiteers whose trust he can count on as he battles with significant criticism from both sides of the dispatch box.
It’s now been a full month since a contingent of Canadian truckers began demonstrating in Ottawa against mandatory vaccinations for those drivers passing the US border. According to the Canadian Trucking Alliance, around 10% of cross-border truckers have refused the vaccination, and hence Justin Trudeau has called the demonstration a “small fringe”. Nevertheless, the protest is now several thousand strong and has morphed into anti-vax protest involving clashes with the police which has resulted in 24 arrests and 80 criminal investigations. While protests have sprung up around different areas of the Ottawa, around 800 miles away many demonstrated on the Ambassador Bridge which subsequently brought Canada’s busiest border crossing – which sees around £240m worth of goods cross over it each day – to a gridlock. Though the crossing has now been re-opened, the scale of the disruption has led to Ottawa declaring a state of emergency and no fewer than 60 business groups calling for an end to the demonstrations. In recent days – and independent of the protest – some Covid restrictions have been relaxed in the province. However, it is unclear on how much longer the protests will last for and owing to the disinformation disseminated by the group on social media platforms, where else demonstrations may appear.
In Other News
Over in Sweden, a company called Corvid Cleaning are aiming to make substantial savings to the country’s costly litter picking services, by recruiting wild Crows to pick up cigarette butts. The founder of the firm, Christian Günther-Hanssen maintains that this could make cost savings of 75% versus conventional cleaning methods, given that 62% of Sweden’s street litter is made up of cigarette butts. Corvid Cleaning are currently undergoing a pilot scheme where its effectiveness will be tested, and the health of the birds closely monitored before potentially trying it out in the streets of Sweden.
The coming days are a little shy on key economic data, nevertheless tomorrow at 13:00 all eyes will be on US CPI data which is expected to surpass the current level of 7% that currently stands at a 39 year high. Additionally on Friday at 07:00 UK GDP figures will be released for Q4 of 2021 where the market is expecting a quarter-on-quarter growth at around 1.1% (in line with Q3) while year-on-year growth is expected at 6.4%. Aside from that, all eyes will also be focused on PMQs today which will no doubt be worth watching.