Recent Blogs

What the UK-Japan trade deal signifies

What the UK-Japan trade deal signifies

The Department for International Trade (DIT) has announced that the UK has concluded a historic new free trade agreement with Japan, the UK’s first major trade deal post-Brexit. The agreement is an important step towards the UK’s ambition to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Poll finds public support for traditional hospital design

Poll finds public support for traditional hospital design

New public polling commissioned by Public Exchange has found a preference for traditional hospital design that favours natural light and private rooms.  This work in hospital design is part of a bigger project looking at the future of the hospital in Britain in the post COVID era, which will evaluate how new hospital building can better meet the needs of the NHS in the 21st century.

A lesson from Vienna in countering Islamist extremism

A lesson from Vienna in countering Islamist extremism

Austria (with which I should declare I have family ties) is perhaps more widely known for Apfelstrudel, the Salzburg Festival, alpine resorts and Conchita Würst than as a European policy leader. It’s been a while since Bruno Kreisky’s edgy Middle East activism or Vienna’s early – and highly effective – engagement with conflict issues in the former Yugoslavia. On most issues, the country has largely been content to position itself in the middle of the EU pack. All perfectly sensible.

Farming is key to a UK-US trade deal, whoever is president

Farming is key to a UK-US trade deal, whoever is president

Later this month, the UK and the US will conduct the third round of talks on a new trade agreement. The successful conclusion of a deal with the US will be challenging but would provide a major strategic prize for the UK, as I explain in a new report for Policy Exchange released today, “The art of a UK-US trade deal”. The paper looks at the challenges and opportunities facing negotiators over the coming months.

Why universities had to be challenged

Why universities had to be challenged

It is now official. The helter skelter expansion of UK higher education ushered in 21 years ago by Tony Blair’s pledge to send half of school leavers to university is now at an end.

And the announcement by the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, came not a moment too soon. The headlong rush into mass academic higher education, leapfrogging even the US, happened faster in the UK than in most other comparable countries and it seemed to happen on automatic pilot, with remarkably little thought given to the economic or social consequences. The only serious debate we ever had was on tuition fees.

Scrapping the scrappage scheme

Scrapping the scrappage scheme

It is welcome news that UK Government has dismissed reports that it was considering a scrappage scheme for petrol and diesel cars as a short-term economic stimulus measure. In a typical scrappage scheme, the government would pay car owners to scrap their current vehicle in return for credit against a new one, thereby stimulating the manufacturing sector. However, scrappage schemes are generally not a desirable policy, because they tend to be an inefficient use of public funds, work against the grain of transport decarbonisation, and send mixed price signals alongside Electric Vehicle subsidies.

Facts vs feelings in the BLM debate

Facts vs feelings in the BLM debate

George Floyd’s appalling murder and the global outrage it triggered has evolved into a broader protest about black disadvantage and racism in western countries.

Many people of goodwill, including many white people, have joined marches in the UK. Young friends of mine who have been on the marches tell me I should tread carefully writing about the issue because I cannot know what it feels like to be black in Britain.

Electricity markets under pressure

Electricity markets under pressure

The Coronavirus has challenged all sectors of the UK economy, and electricity markets have been no exception. Electricity demand is down by as much as 20%, causing periods of negative electricity prices and unprecedented strain on the Electricity System Operator (ESO), run by National Grid. The ESO is responsible for ensuring that the system can respond to lightning strikes and faults at power stations, and that power lines don’t become overloaded. To do this, the ESO takes “balancing actions”, paying to turn down some generators and paying to turn up others.

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