Commonwealth Nations By Bastin8 (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

By Bastin8 (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

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It looks like the Prime Minister will be pledging to put the Commonwealth at the heart of a global post-Brexit Britain.

As the heads of Commonwealth states congregate for a summit in London for the first time in twenty years, it is reported that the prime Minister, Theresa May, "…..will call for the Commonwealth to be a beacon for free trade, at a time of increasing protectionism, and will offer UK funding to work towards common standards across Commonwealth members." Says the Financial Times.

And it looks like there is now a massive Commonwealth drive on, with Xinhuanet reporting that the Australian foreign minister, Julie Bishop, is working with the UK to expand membership of the Commonwealth beyond English-speaking nations.

"The British are keen to have a great revival of the commonwealth at this London meeting, with the royal family playing a big role, and there is a strong emphasis on trade after Brexit." she told News Corp Australia.

"There is a big push to extend the commonwealth beyond its old colonial image with a campaign to include new members which were not under British control. Mozambique has been ­admitted and others are trying."

The PM will also be launching a new £7 million fund today to help female entrepreneurs across the commonwealth. The scheme, called 'SheTrades', will help women in poorer countries overcome barriers to starting a business, says PoliticsHome.

And PoliticsHome is also running a story about a Tweet that Diane Abbott put out condemning a Tory minister for saying that a vote on the Syria bombing was not needed – but the Tweet came with a made up image on it of an Israeli jet bombing Iran, a picture that came out in 2012 with a clear disclaimer that it was a fictional scene.

Poor old Diane, she does keep dropping herself in it, doesn't she?

The government is recruiting more border staff in Northern Ireland, says the Irish News. But some people are upset that only UK passport holders will be able to apply for the new jobs as they are 'reserved posts' meaning only UK passport holders can be given them. But the SDLP Brexit spokesperson, Claire Hanna, called it 'exclusionary and chilling'.

I've got to say, if there's a UK border surely those guarding it should be UK passport holders at the very least?

Now let's expand that to the UK police force too.

More on borders, the Portsmouth News reports that the Royal Navy is drawing up plans to retain older patrol vessels and use them to police UK waters after Brexit.

Rear Admiral Chris Gardner said:

"At the moment no decision has been taken about what their future could be.

"I’m keeping the ships in a state of operational readiness which means that as the future becomes a bit clearer post-Brexit, and as our requirements are more broadly understood, we will be able to make decisions about whether or not we will seek to retain and operate them as additional units in the Royal Navy or find some other solution."

Seems eminently sensible, as long as we've got the people to operate them.

Now, there may be a quiet expansion in domestic business out of London and up to the North happening in the background.

The Financial Times reports that business travel to the North of England has risen recently and says:

"The north of England has seen a sharp rise in business travel, prompting experts to suggest that companies are spreading their bases outside London and focusing on the domestic market ahead of Brexit."

It says that data from Advantage Travel Partnership, the UK’s largest consortium of corporate travel agents, showed that in 2017 corporate bookings rose by 55% in Blackpool, 35% in Preston, 33% in Bradford, 24% in Sheffield and 21% in Doncaster.

Looks like the seeds are being sown for Brexit to bring with it a real renewed interest in making business work at home here in the UK!

And CityAM reports that two in five UK businesses now have plans to start exporting in the next six months.

Quoting a Lloyds report, it said that these businesses were looking to export because of demand from overseas and to take advantage of the current exchange rates.

The Lloyds report also said that 33% of businesses said Brexit would be positive for them and 28% thought it would have a negative effect. Hmmmm, not what the Remainers keep telling us is it.

On the economy, Price Waterhouse Coopers has predicted that UK GDP will not be quite as good as forecast for the first quarter of 2018 when the final figures come out – but before the Remainers get all excited, PwC puts this down to the extreme cold weather we had, no mention of Brexit I'm afraid.

Finally, it will be interesting to see what effect ditching social media will have on the fortunes of JD Wetherspoon. The company boss and Brexiteer, Tim Martin, made the announcement …. on Twitter! And he says his pub managers agree that they do not need this heavy social media exposure to make the business work.

But of course the people who sell their social media savvy are not at all pleased, saying that it will hit the bottom line. But then what else could they say?

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