November 1, 2018

Brexit latest: Government battles with Apple over citizenship app

By Lucy Ingham

In the Brexit latest, a smartphone app that the UK government is launching to make it easy for EU citizens to apply to remain in the UK has hit a roadblock as the government finds itself in a battle with iPhone maker Apple.

The app, which is designed to make it easy for the 3.5 million EU citizens living in the UK to apply for settled status, has users answer three questions and take a selfie, before scanning the chip on their passport to confirm their identity. Two weeks later they should have a decision on their leave to remain.

However, according to the BBC, the chip-scanning feature currently does not work on Apple devices, meaning iPhone owners – around half the UK smartphone market – will either have to find an Android device or use the far more lengthy postal process.

The Home Office knew about this issue, but had been banking on Apple to update its system to support the feature, which is possible with existing iPhone hardware. However, Apple has declined as it does not want its near-field communications technology to be used by anything other than Apple Pay.

Conservative MP Caroline Nokes told ministers in the Home Affairs Committee that Apple “won’t release the upgrade we need in order for it to function”.

Apple has so far not commented on the situation, but if it does not release an update supporting the feature, the application process will likely be considerably slower and more expensive for the Home Office to manage.

UK manufacturing slump blamed on Brexit

The news that UK manufacturing has hit a slowdown over the last month has been attributed to the uncertainty  over Brexit, combined with the wider trade conflicts between the US and China.

“With the UK manufacturing PMI for October dropping by 2.5 points, it suggests that business confidence is on a downward trend,” said Justin Benson, head of automotive at KPMG UK.

“Combine that with Brexit, trade negotiations between the US and China, German elections and Italian debt, the picture it paints is one of increased geopolitical uncertainty.”

Of particular note is the unwillingness to commit to long-term contracts until the uncertainty surrounding Brexit lifts.

“Our clients are reporting that their customers are cutting contracts for new orders from six months to three. The focus is narrowing from long-term plans as businesses try to manage uncertainty,” said Shannon Murphy, assistant head of risk underwriting at Euler Hermes.

“Until firms have more clarity about what a future relationship with the EU looks like, investment levels are likely to continue to flatline and confidence will remain low.”

Brexit latest: May reaches “tentative deal” for financial services sector

In other Brexit latest news, Theresa May is said to have reached a “tentative deal” over the UK financial sector, which would allow it continue to access EU markets post-Brexit.

The report from an unnamed source quoted in The Guardian has prompted the pound to jump in value, although there has been no official comment on the matter.

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