Rishi Sunak met President Joe Biden at the White House for the first time as British Prime Minister last week, and once POTUS had gotten over the fact that Boris Johnson had obviously taken a lot of early summer breaks and lost quite a bit of height he re-extended the hand of friendship between their great nation ... and Great Britain.
Despite this special friendship and a huge amount of love gained between us and them it comes as something of a surprise that US business has lost confidence in the UK as a place to invest as a result of Brexit, rising corporate taxes and a year of intense political turmoil in Westminster.
Jeez, what a bummer.
By way of contrast, UK business confidence in the US remained high, with 23 British companies surveyed giving an average confidence rating of 8.4 out of 10. The numbers heading the other way across the Pond are that confidence in UK businesses has fallen for the third year in a row, despite Rishi Sunak’s ("Who?" said Mr Biden ten minutes after Rishi had left the White House) steadying hand in Downing Street after the turbulence of the Boris Johnson and Liz Truss administrations.
On a scale of 1 to 10, the average confidence rating among the US companies fell to 6.5 down from 7.3 in 2022. The decline of nearly a full point marked an acceleration in negative US sentiment towards the UK after a half-point drop between 2021-2022. Someone called Duncan Edwards, who Billy from the NTI newsroom thinks may be a swimmer, or possibly someone's Dad, said that: “There is a clear trend over the last three years that stated confidence from US investors into the UK has declined, and last year the decline was greater than the previous two years, which is a source of concern”.
His counterpart in the US, Chuck someone, said: "Have you thought of making more stuff or getting Queen Elizabeth to come over to stay?"
What is absolutely not helpful in any way are the official figures, issued by The Insolvency Service today (Monday 12 June), reporting 'Director Enforcement Outcome' statistics for May 2023. 91 directors were disqualified during May, compared to 94 during April and the numbers persist in being much lower than pre-pandemic years. The headlines are:
• The average length of director disqualification was 7.8 years, lowering the average from eight years as reported in April 2023
• 52 out of 185 of section 6 CDDA director disqualifications included an allegation relating to abuse of the COVID-19 financial support scheme, compared to the revised 49 out of 87 reported in April 2023
• 12 companies were wound up in the public interest, compared to four in April 2023
• 14 individuals entered Bankruptcy or Debt Relief Restrictions Orders and Undertakings, compared to seven in April 2023
• Nine individuals faced criminal charges brought by the Insolvency Service, all of which were convicted. This compares to a revised 11 individuals charged in April 2023, of which seven were convicted