San Siro Stadium Tour


We start our football derbies challenge with a bang, AC Milan vs. Inter. My son is really excited and we arrive in Milan under the snow. We are not that well prepared and we could have done with some wellies. On the day of the game we learn that it has been postponed because the Fiorentina captain has died in the team hotel of a heart attack. Consequences for us is that we will not be watching the game this month, but there are more important things in life than football! Instead we get to visit Milan and what a beautiful city. The architecture is amazing (full report on our adventure will be written once we get to see the game). On the Monday we are heading towards the San Siro to visit one of the most iconic stadium in the world, where battles have been fierce.

San Siro stadium

The Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, commonly known as San Siro, is a football stadium in the San Siro district of Milan, Italy, which is the home of A.C. Milan and Inter. It has a seating capacity of 80,018, making it one of the largest stadiums in Europe, and the largest in Italy.

Construction of the stadium commenced in 1925 in the district of Milan named San Siro, with the new stadium originally named Nuovo Stadio Calcistico San Siro (San Siro New Football Stadium). The idea to build a stadium in the same district as the horse racing track belonging to the man who at that time was the president of A.C. Milan, Piero Pirelli. The architects designed a private stadium only for football, without the athletics tracks which characterized Italian stadiums built with public funds. The inauguration was on 19 September 1926, when 35,000 spectators saw Inter defeat Milan 6–3. Originally, the ground was home and property of A.C. Milan. Finally, in 1947, Inter, who used to play in the Arena Civica downtown, became tenants and the two have shared the ground ever since.

From 1948 to 1955, engineers Armando Ronca and Ferruccio Calzolari developed the project for the second extension of the stadium, which capacity was meant to increase from 50,000 to 150,000 visitors. Calzolari and Ronca proposed three additional, vertically arranged, rings of spectator rows. Nineteen spiralling ramps – each 200-meter-long – allow to access the upper ranks. In the course of the execution, the realisation of the highest of the three rings was abandoned and the number of visitors limited to 100,000.On 2 March 1980 the stadium was named for Giuseppe Meazza (1910–1979), one of the most famous Milanese footballers.

The stadium underwent further renovations for the 1990 World Cup with $60 million being spent, bringing the stadium up to UEFA category four standard. As part of the renovations, the stadium became all seated, with an extra tier being added to three sides of the stadium. This entailed the building of 11 concrete towers around the outside of the stadium. Four of these concrete towers were located at the corners to support a new roof, which has distinctive protruding red girders.


Armando Ronca (13 September 1901 – 19 March 1970) was an Italian architect who has executed numerous buildings and interior designs, mainly in South Tyrol, Trentino and Milan

Stadium Tour

No need to pay online, it is only in Italian, and you can pay at the gate. We took a taxi from Duomo, in the city centre where our hotel was, to the San Siro. The fare was approx. 15€ for approx. 30min drive.

Arrived at the San Siro and the least I can say is that it is an imposing structure but full of concrete like Santiago Bernabeu (not pretty and lack of colours).

Make your way to Ingresso 8 (gate 8) and their we got to stand in the queue for 30min. They only had two people issuing tickets with only one credit card machine (really annoying).

The price of the ticket is 17€ and free for kids under 5. You go through metal detector and make your way to the museum. Did I say museum? It is basically a room with players shirts, one trophy and few other memorabilia. The best thing about it, is the fusball table where I got to play with my son.

After 15min, we then made our way to the stadium. We pass what I assumed was the press area where players stop for interviews after they got changed, but not confirmed. It is a self guided tour…with no information! There is some really friendly staff that do give us some info and mention that the AC Milan and Inter dressing rooms are of the same size but different configuration. Players shorts are hung and you get to take pictures. You can’t see other amenities disappointingly.

You then take a long tunnel towards the pitch and it is the perfect time for the little one to stretch his legs. You emerge on the other side and then wow. What an impressive sight. You are in the arena and feel like a gladiator. But then after the wow factor comes in the reality. You start to realise that it is dilapidated. Also, because the ground is shared, you don’t feel a sense of belonging. You usually have fans banners but this is after all a neutral ground. It originally was AC Milan and there are talk of Inter moving away. It would make sense. As a neutral fan, I associate the San Siro with AC Milan rather than Inter. The seats are worn out and it would need some renovation. We make our way to the terraces (not a good idea to bring a pram!) and my son gets to shout. Well his shout goes all around the stadium and I can only imaging how deafening it must be when full capacity with flares and crackers.

We then make our way out of the stadium and the visit is concluded. Overall, disappointing. Such and iconic and amazing stadium and yet an over prices tour. They could do so much more with it! You can view my video below:

Cost: 17€ adult, 12€ juniors and free under 5
Stadium architecture: 10/10
Stadium history: 10/10
Stadium tour: 1/10
Overall mark: 7/10

Benoit Mercier


First derby for the challenge is…AC Milan v Inter Milan

Ok, I have now reviewed my options and I have decided to start our challenge in Milan for what should be a cracking of an opening for us. The game is on the 4th March at 3pm local time.

The Derby della Madonnina is one of the most sought after. Looking forward to visiting Milan and its rich history, as well as, the famous San Siro.

Remember, you can help me:

And don’t forget that it is also for the FBB charity:

Look out in a month’s time for the first report!

Benoit Mercier

Wembley Stadium Tour


Wow it has been ages since I last did a stadium tour with my son. 8 months to be precise. It is amazing how little time you have with your second child. Now, my wife tells me that she is inviting her NCC friends for my daughter’s first birthday. The brief was concise, find something else to do with your son whilst I have a blast with my girlfriends. I didn’t need much before planning my next trip. I asked my son if he wanted to go to Wembley and within seconds of his positive response we were on our way up the M25.

Wembley Stadium

Wembley Stadium is a football stadium in Wembley, London, England, which opened in 2007, on the site of the original Wembley Stadium, which was demolished from 2002–2003. The stadium hosts major football matches including home matches of the England national football team, and the FA Cup Final. The stadium is also the temporary home of Premier League football club Tottenham Hotspur while White Hart Lane is being demolished and their new stadium is being constructed.

Wembley Stadium is owned by the governing body of English football, the Football Association(the FA), through its subsidiary Wembley National Stadium Ltd (WNSL). The FA headquarters are in the stadium. With 90,000 seats, it is the largest football stadium in England, the largest stadium in the UK and the second-largest stadium in Europe. Designed by Populous and Foster and Partners, it includes a partially retractable roof and the 134-metre-high (440 ft) Wembley Arch. The stadium was built by Australian firm Multiplex at a cost of £798 million (£1.09 billion today).

In addition to England home games and the FA Cup final, the stadium also hosts other major games in English football, including the season-opening FA Community Shield, the League Cup final, the FA Cup semi-finals, the Football League Trophy, the Football League play-offs, the FA Trophy, the FA Vase and the National League play-offs. A UEFA category four stadium, Wembley hosted the 2011 and 2013 UEFA Champions League Finals, and will host both the semi-finals and final of UEFA Euro 2020. The stadium hosted the Gold medal matches at the 2012 Olympic Games football tournament. The stadium also hosts rugby league’s Challenge Cup final, NFL London Games and music concerts.

I did my first stadium tour in 96 and I must say that to date it will remain one of the most magical one in my life. I remember seeing the twin towers, the wooden blue sits and its sand pits. I also remember walking onto the pitch it what was the most beautiful stadium of all. What a mess the FA have done with the new design. Look at the below with the twin towers and its unique lightening system. I blame the idiots at the FA, the stupidity of English Heritage and brent council for this monumental cock up. Do you know how the twin towers were destroyed? Fittingly by Germans like on the pitch! The Twin Towers were the last structure of Wembley to be demolished. Preliminary demolition work started in December 2002 with the concrete crowns being removed from the top of the flagpoles. The towers were demolished in 2003 by a large Liebherr 974 crawler excavator referred to as “Goliath”, made in Germany specifically for the task. The original foundations of Watkin’s Tower were rediscovered during the demolition. The top of one of the towers was moved to be installed as a memorial at St Raphael’s Estate.



Wembley was designed by architects Foster + Partners and Populous (formally HOK Sport) and with engineers Mott Stadium Consortium, who were a collection of three structural engineering consultants in the form of Mott MacDonald, Sinclair Knight Merzand Aurecon. The design of the building services was carried out by Mott MacDonald. The construction of the stadium was managed by Australian company Multiplex and funded by Sport England, WNSL (Wembley National Stadium Limited), the Football Association, the Department for Culture Media and Sport and the London Development Agency. It is one of the most expensive stadia ever built at a cost of £798 million, and has the largest roof-covered seating capacity in the world. Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners was appointed to assist Wembley National Stadium Limited in preparing the scheme for a new stadium and to obtain planning and listed building permission for the development. 

The all-seater stadium is a bowl design with a capacity of 90,000, protected from the elements by a sliding roof that does not completely enclose it. It can also be adapted as an athletic stadium by erecting a temporary platform over the lowest tier of seating. The stadium’s signature feature is a circular section lattice arch of 7 m (23 ft) internal diameter with a 315 m (1,033 ft) span, erected some 22° off true, and rising to 133 m (436 ft). It supports all the weight of the north roof and 60% of the weight of the retractable roof on the southern side. The archway is the world’s longest unsupported roof structure.

A “platform system” has been designed to convert the stadium for athletics use, but its use would decrease the stadium’s capacity to approximately 60,000. No athletics events (track and field) have taken place at the stadium, and none are scheduled. The conversion for athletics use was a condition of part of the lottery funding the stadium received, but to convert it would take weeks of work and cost millions of pounds.

Interesting facts about Wembley

  • The stadium contains 2,618 toilets, more than any other venue in the world. The guide was proud of this fact!
  • The stadium has a circumference of 1 km (0.62 mi).
  • The bowl volume is listed at 1,139,100 m3 (1,489,900 cu yd), somewhat smaller than the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, but with a greater seating capacity.
  • At its peak, there were more than 3,500 construction workers on site.
  • 4,000 separate piles form the foundations of the new stadium, the deepest of which is 35 m (115 ft).
  • There are 56 km (35 mi) of heavy-duty power cables in the stadium.
  • 90,000 m3 (120,000 cu yd) of concrete and 23,000 tonnes (25,000 short tons) of steel were used in the construction of the new stadium.
  • The total length of the escalators is 400 metres (14 mi).
  • The arch has a cross-sectional diameter greater than that of a cross-channel Eurostar train

Stadium Tour

Make your way on the iconic Wembley Way and behind Bobby Moore’s statute, you will find the entrance to the stadium tour. Collect your pass and you wait in the cafe. In the cafe you can admire the original FA Cup, World cup Jules Rimet’s trophy. Suspended at the top is the cross bar that Geoff Hearst so famously thrashed whilst scoring a hat trick against West Germany in 1966.

The guide picks you up and shows you a replay of that famous goal. He then asks you the question whether it crossed the line and all say yes apart from two Germans that ask for goal line technology.

We then make our way into the stands to enjoy the view. The guide asks you to shout ‘goal’ and you can hear your voice going round the stadium. The corporate boxes’s windows around the stadium were built at a 5 degree angle in order for the noise to reverberate. The very enthusiast guide then explains that the pitch is 98% natural grass with 2% injected with artificial fibres to keep it immaculate. The roof is retractable in three places west, east and north to protect fans from the rain.

We then make our way to the press conference room. Very spacious but to my displeasure full of Tottenham branding material (grrr). Nothing against Spurs but when you go to see your national stadium you expect all to be about England.

Now, we make our way to the dressing rooms. 4 in total and of equal size. There isn’t a home or away dressing room like at club level. In fact there are small but luxurious. Because Wembley is used a lot for the NFL, an NFL team made up of 53 players, take two dressing rooms (offensive and defensive) and they have to take the doors down so that they can communicate.

Onto the pitch and my son is leading the line (too right future England captain) and his first word when he sees the pitch with the background noise is ‘wow’. It is all worth it.

We then take the famous steps to the Royal box where you get your picture taken with the original FA Cup (£10). As any good tour you finish next to the megastore.

A good tour with a nice guide but the Spurs branding diminishes the magic and yes I really miss the twin towers, the wooden seats and the sand. You must move on with your time many will say, I say sod it bring the magic back!

Cost:  £20 adult and £12 under 16. Free for under 5’s
Stadium architecture: 7/10
Stadium history: 4/10 (not the ground that would get 10 but the new wembley hasn’t see much yet)
Stadium tour: 7/10
Overall mark: 6/10

Benoit Mercier


No prisoners: e-Commerce Uses Game Theory to Capture Consumer Share of Wallet thanks to Nash Equilibrium

It is that time of year again. Christmas shopping must be done and deals are flying in all consumers inboxes. Whilst reading ‘The Bargaining Problem‘ by one of my favourite Mathematician/economist, it got me thinking how we use the Game Theory on a regular basis in eCommerce reflecting on my Christmas shopping behaviour (both as a consumer and retailer). Indeed, the rise and rapid proliferation of technology has forced companies to adapt in order to stay relevant and competitive. Specifically, the consumer retail industry has recently navigated this changing landscape by utilising collected consumer data to make prices dynamic depending on seasonal factors, locations (international businesses) and even the strategies of their competitors. These companies are trying to harness the power of technology to achieve perfect price discrimination, where the seller knows every buyer’s willingness to pay and can therefore maximise retail prices without exceeding the buyer’s walk away price.

John Nash and the Equilibrium Point

John Forbes Nash Jr. (June 13, 1928 – May 23, 2015) was an American mathematician who made fundamental contributions to game theory, differential geometry, and the study of partial differential equations. Nash’s work has provided insight into the factors that govern chance and decision-making inside complex systems found in everyday life.

His theories are widely used in economics. Serving as a Senior Research Mathematician at Princeton University during the latter part of his life, he shared the 1994 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences with game theorists Reinhard Selten and John Harsanyi. In 2015, he also shared the Abel Prize with Louis Nirenberg for his work on nonlinear partial differential equations.

John Nash is the only person to be awarded both the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences and the Abel Prize.

Game theorists use the Nash equilibrium concept to analyse the outcome of the strategic interaction of several decision makers. In other words, it provides a way of predicting what will happen if several people or several institutions are making decisions at the same time, and if the outcome depends on the decisions of the others. The simple insight underlying John Nash’s idea is that one cannot predict the result of the choices of multiple decision makers if one analyses those decisions in isolation. Instead, one must ask what each player would do, taking into account the decision-making of the others.


Game theory applied to eCommerce

In the context of e-Commerce, the retailer and the consumer are the two players. A game theory graph would illustrate the company’s best response to the consumer’s willingness to pay and the consumer’s response to the retail price the company is offering for the product. There would be no dominant strategy in this game because of the availability of information about other sellers and the access to other sellers the customer has in addition to the connectivity to millions of buyers via the Internet the company has. Either party can forego engaging in this transaction and just find another customer/company to sell/buy to/from. This can be illustrated with the given example (I read couple of articles whilst researching) of how Amazon dropped prices on Black Friday of a Samsung TV from $350 to $250 and decided on this final price using collected data, which allowed them to surpass the competition. Amazon took this a step further by hiking the price of HDMI cables, a complementary product, knowing based on consumer data that people are less likely to shop around in pursuit of the lowest prices for smaller items than bigger ticket items. The customers’ willingness to pay was any price lower than what the competitors were offering, which turned out to be the $250 (implying that no other retailer offered prices that low).

The implications of this show how companies are controlling not only prices but consumers’ perception of prices, thereby using this data to surpass the competition by limiting how consumers perceive the choices they have in front of them. Furthermore, this serves as an illustration of another way we experience a loss of control in our lives. However, another side of the argument says that perfect price discrimination can positively impact consumers, since their prices will be individually tailored. At the same time, this constant changing of prices can end up overwhelming and deterring consumers from purchasing the item all together.

As of now, it is too soon to tell how and if this becomes a normalised practice that we all must adapt to. It definitely is interesting to consider the ripple effects it will have on consumer behaviour in the future in addition to potential consumer protection regulation, as we are operating within a rigged sandbox where companies hold all the cards in their favour through informational advantages.

Recommended reading:

Happy Christmas Shopping and bargain hunting

Benoit Mercier


Speed is everything

When you launch a website, there are many factors that must be optimised, like checkout, but speed is the one you should really focus on. At the end of the day, if your website is optimised on all key conversion pages but your website is slow then it is wasted effort, believe me. Can the speed of your website really have that much of an effect on your conversion rate? Even if your site isn’t loading too slowly, can it still be improved?

According to surveys done by Akamai and, nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less, and they tend to abandon a site that isn’t loaded within 3 seconds. 79% of web shoppers who have trouble with web site performance say they won’t return to the site to buy again and around 44% of them would tell a friend if they had a poor experience shopping online.

This means you’re not just losing conversions from visitors currently on your site, but that loss is magnified to their friends and colleagues as well. The end result –lots of potential sales down the drain because of a few seconds difference.

How fast should be my website?

This is a question I get asked a lot. I have naively always thrived for the magical number of 2s but let me put it out there: ‘Not possible’! I know the stats and the graphs but for a retailer this number is fantasy. So what should it be?

Well in my opinion, you should do two things. Firstly, make sure that you are faster than your previous year. if you build a new website, it is not to be slower. There is nothing wrong to compare YoY. However, remember that it might not be LFL because you have changed the amount of content on a specific web page (i.e. larger images on your product detail page). Secondly, you should benchmark your key competitors. At the end of the day if you are faster than them then you can gain a competitive advantage.

Speed and google

Let me clear this one out. A slow website doesn’t currently harm your organic ranking. Will it change? The speed of your mobile pages currently doesn’t impact your mobile rankings, but soon it may, says Gary Illyes of Google. Read this article.

What tools to use?

There are plenty out there. For me, the best free ones are webtestpage and GA. I use them on a weekly basis and find them incredibly rich in insight. I know a lot of web developers use Lighthouse but for me it is rubbish. You can run the same tests 10 times in a row and you get huge variations.

Also, if you can afford it, find an excellent monitoring partner. I use NCC and they are fantastic. This is their area of expertise and they have some excellent tools. One that I am currently testing is their RUM tool that can predict how much cash you are loosing or potentially could gain if you were going to increase speed.

How to measure speed?

Speed Index. Yes you need to monitor your speed index on a monthly basis if not weekly if you have just replatformed. Read more.

There are all the KPIs you must look at:

  • First BYTE – The First Byte time is the time from when the user started navigating to the page until the first bit of the server response arrived.  The bulk of this time is usually referred to the “back-end time” and is the amount of time the server spent building the page for the user.
  • Render start – The Start Render time is the first point in time that something was displayed to the screen.  Before this point in time the user was staring at a blank page.  This does not necessarily mean the user saw the page content, it could just be something as simple as a background color but it is the first indication of something happening for the user.
  • DOM load – DOM ready means that all the HTML has been received and parsed by the browser into the DOM tree which can now be manipulated. It occurs before the page has been fully rendered (as external resources may have not yet fully downloaded – including images, CSS, JavaScript and any other linked resources)
  • Visually complete – Visually Complete measures how long it takes to display the content visible in the user’s browser: content “below the fold” and non-visual content (like third-party tracking beacons) is excluded.
  • Fully loaded – The metrics grouped together under the Fully Loaded heading are the metrics collected up until there was 2 seconds of no network activity after Document Complete.  This will usually include any activity that is triggered by javascript after the main page loads
  • Page weight – this is how heavy your page is with all the content

and then leave all other metrics to your web developers. Optimise all of the KPIs above and your CR will start to improve. How much will CR improve depends on how bad your website is.

Also remember to tests in different environments. For example, how fast is your website in a slow 3G environment vs. a 5mbps WIFI? Also adjust latency.


Ignore website speed at your own peril as the CR gains are potentially huge. You haven’t got time then appoint a partner. If you have invested in a Ferrari but it is as fast as a Skoda then you are burning cash away! Monitoring takes no more than an hour when you select key pages (i.e. homepage, category landing page, product detail page) and will give you a great set of focus with your web developers. Good luck.

Benoit Mercier


BOE stark warning…to the clown

The Governor of the Bank of England has warned that the major economic impact of Brexit has yet to be felt, but it was likely to spell a weaker economy, higher inflation and higher interest rates in the coming years.
In his latest attack on Brexit and Boris Johnson may I add, Mark Carney said that it should be seen as a prime example of “de-globalisation”, adding that it was likely to dampen UK growth, and that any fall in migration numbers could also push up inflation and force the bank to raise borrowing costs. At the IMF, Mr Carney said Brexit was “an example of de-globalisation not globalisation”. He added: “It will proceed rapidly not slowly. Its effects will not build by stealth but can be anticipated.”
The Governor said any fall in migration following Britain’s departure could push up prices in the UK, saying: “Abrupt decreases in migration could result in shortages in some sectors that have become reliant on migrant labour, and contribute more materially to inflationary pressures.”
Mr Carney also said that while economic growth remained relatively resilient so far, it could take many years for the full impact of the transition to be felt by the UK economy, pointing out that any fall in the value of the currency could take as long as four years to feed into domestic prices.
However, he said that there was only so much the Bank could do with interest rates: “It is critical to recognise that Brexit represents a real shock about which monetary policy can do little. “Monetary policy cannot prevent the weaker real incomes likely to accompany the move to new trading arrangements with the EU, but it can influence how this hit to incomes is distributed between job losses and price rises.”And it can support UK households and businesses as they adjust to such profound change.”
However, Mr Carney’s speech also suggested that wages could rise faster if the UK left the EU, suggesting the Phillips Curve – a measure of the trade-off between inflation and employment – could steepen as a result.
His speech did not add much detail to the news last week that the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee is now more open to the notion of an interest rate increase. He said: “If the economy continues to follow a path consistent with the prospect of a continued erosion of slack and a gradual rise in underlying inflationary pressure then, with the further lessening in the trade-off that this would imply, some withdrawal of monetary stimulus is likely to be appropriate over the coming months in order to return inflation sustainably to target. “Any prospective increases in bank rate would be expected to be at a gradual pace and to a limited extent, and to be consistent with monetary policy continuing to provide substantial support to the economy.”

Who would you trust, the man in charge of BOE or the clown touring the world? Do you really have to think 🙂

Benoit Mercier


Isolation is not good for me…Brexit a year on

I wonder if Boris Johnson and our beloved Nigel Farage listen to Fool’s Garden Lemon Tree song every morning. I feel the song was written for them by the Prime Minister Theresa May (take few minutes to read the lyrics and imagining Theresa 10 Downing Street with her ink and paper):

I’m sitting here in a boring room, it’s just another rainy
Sunday afternoon. I’m wasting my time, I got nothing to do.
I’m hanging around, I’m waiting for you,
But nothing ever happens – and I wonder.

I’m driving around in my car, I’m driving too fast, I’m
Driving too far. I’d like to change my point of view.
I feel so lonely, I’m waiting for you,
But nothing ever happens – and I wonder.

I wonder how, I wonder why yesterday you told me
‘Bout the blue blue sky and all that I can see is just
A yellow lemon tree. I’m turning my head up and down
I’m turning, turning, turning, turning, turning around.
And all that I can see is just another lemon tree.

Sing: dah…

I’m sitting here, I miss the power, I’d like to go out,
Taking a shower, but there’s a heavy cloud inside my head.
I feel so tired, put myself into bed, where nothing ever
Happens – and I wonder.

Isolation – is not the good for me.
Isolation – I don’t want to sit on a lemon tree.
I’m steppin’ around in a desert of joy. Baby anyhow I’ll get
Another toy and everything will happen – and you’ll wonder.

I wonder how, I wonder why yesterday you told me
‘Bout the blue blue sky and all that I can see is just
Another lemon tree. I’m turning my head up and down
I’m turning, turning, turning, turning, turning around
And all that I can see is just a yellow lemon tree.

And I wonder, wonder
I wonder how, I wonder why yesterday you told me
‘Bout the blue blue sky and all that I can see
And all that I can see
And all that I can see is just a yellow lemon tree.

Funny isn’t it? So what has happened a year on after Brexit was declared through a referendum? I wondered as when I returned from mainland Europe, a border officer asked me if I lived here, to which I confirmed and told him for at least another year. He laughed and we got talking about Brexit (to be fair it was close to midnight and not many customers). He was adamant Brexit would happen and it would be good for the UK. Of course, I had to argue the other way (not that Brexit won’t happen but that the UK will feel the positive impact). We did agree on one thing. He is not going to be made redundant anytime soon (Lots of Migrants in Calais waiting for that day).

  1. Theresa May failed election shows poor leadership going into the most important negotiation of the UK History
  2. Living standards hugely under pressure
  3. Pound falling sharpely
  4. EU skilled labour exiting
  5. House prices growth have halved

Failed gerneral election

The general election result has plunged Britain into political chaos just 10 days before the government was due to begin the all-important Brexit negotiations. Mrs May  teamed up with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which narrowly gave her the numbers she needs to pass legislation in the Commons, but it’s clear a significant period of political instability lies ahead. The split within the Conservative camp is greater than an Oak Tree.

It is hilarious to see Boris Johnson laying down his vision ahead of his boss. The power struggle going on currently is mismerising. This weekend plenty of dismayed Tory MPs – even some who share Johnson’s views on Brexit – are calling on May to dismiss him, while recognising that she is probably too weak to do so. One former minister said: “It is completely disgraceful. You do not write an article like that without consulting the prime minister and your cabinet colleagues. It is a complete abdication of cabinet responsibility. This is all about Mr Johnson, Mr Johnson, Mr Johnson, not about the interests of government or the country.” Another said that Tory MPs would be writing to the whips demanding that he be sacked as foreign secretary because he was a law unto himself and a liability: “He is deliberately tempting May to sack him but the awful thing is that she is too pathetically weak to do so. So we have a cabinet openly at war on the most important issue of the day and that is what we have to live with.” Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson, a long-standing critic of Johnson, tweeted her disapproval pointing out that priorities should have been elsewhere the day after a terror attack in London

Leave Barometer: Negative

Living standards under huge pressure

Living standards still face squeeze as earnings have failed to keep pace with rising inflation.

The good news. The ONS said unemployment in the quarter ending in June was down 57,000 on the previous three months at 1,484,000. The jobless rate fell to a 42-year low of 4.4%. Employment was up by 125,000 at 32.1 million in the three months to June, the highest rate (75.1%) since modern records began in 1971.

The bad news. But despite the additional jobs and the acceleration in earnings growth, living standards remain under pressure because pay has failed to keep pace with inflation, which stood at 2.6% in June. Basically, if you received a pay increase lately, the reality is that you are saving less than a year ago (look at that difference in the graph below)


Leave Barometer: Negative

Currency dropping sharply

Winners from weak Pound

  • UK exporters who will be more competitive.
  • Foreign tourists coming to UK (a little ironic given context of Brexit vote!)
  • Foreign investors who find British assets/housing cheaper.
  • UK firms who earn profits abroad. (e.g. firms who have investments in the US)

Losers from weak Pound

  • Foreign firms exporting to UK (e.g. Irish farmers hit by fall in Sterling)
  • British holidaymakers going abroad will find US and EU more expensive
  • Foreign workers in the UK. Working in the UK is relatively less attractive (could reduce incentive for net migration to the UK)

So has the UK benefitted from a weak pound?

Britain’s trade position with the rest of the world worsened in June as the sharp fall in the value of the pound since the Brexit vote failed to lift sales of UK-made goods abroad.

The trade in goods deficit widened unexpectedly to £12.7bn, from £11.3bn in May, as exports fell by 2.8% but imports rose by 1.6% according to the Office for National Statistics. It was the biggest deficit in nine months and much wider than economists’ forecasts of £11bn.

The figures are the latest sign that a weak pound is failing to boost exports, despite making British goods cheaper abroad. The pound is 13% lower against the dollar than it was on the day of the EU referendum, at $1.2988. It is down 15% against the euro, at €1.1052.

Weaker exports in June were driven by a 7.9% fall to countries outside the EU, while goods exported to EU member states rose by 2.7%.

“The UK is becoming more and not less dependent on the European Union, whatever the result of the referendum last year,” said Edward Hardy, an economist at World First. “The numbers are a firm signal that the continent is still the place to be for selling overseas and making the most of the weaker pound.”

Leave Barometer: Negative

EU skilled labour exiting

More Europeans, especially from the East, have left the uk +36% vs. LY. EU migrants are leaving Britain because of uncertainty over Brexit, slower economic growth and higher prices. The slump in the value of the pound — down 14% since the referendum — and stagnating real wages have made salaries earned in the U.K. worth less when transferred abroad.

There has also been an increase in the number of racist attacks on immigrants in the aftermath of the referendum.

“The slowdown reflects uncertainty about both the current and future position of migrants,” said Douglas McWilliams, president of the Centre for Economics and Business Research

The U.K. government has pledged to bring net migration down to “tens of thousands” of people in the wake of Brexit. Net migration — the number of people coming to the U.K. less the number of those who’ve left — has slumped by roughly 25% to 248,000 in 2016. But businesses and experts have warned that the U.K. economy depends on the steady stream of immigrants and will be hurt if they stop coming. U.K. unemployment is at its lowest level in more than 40 years, and many sectors including hospitality, healthcare, tech and construction, are struggling to find staff.

Leave campaigners will have to be thrilled with this. Afterall this is what they wanted. I can’t help to wonder who is going to fill the gaps.

Leave Barometer: Positive

House prices growth have halved

The lender’s latest house price index showed that property prices were 3.8pc higher in March than in the same month last year, the smallest annual increase since May 2013. This was down from an annual growth of 5.1pc in February and far below the peak of 10pc reached in March 2016. Oh no, homeowners are now poorer than they were pre-Brexit vote!

Two options on the table to keep prices up, stop building new homes to tighten the demand, but then unemployment will go up.

Leave Barometer: Negative


So, not all indicators are as bad as I thought a year ago (predicted all of them apart from unemployment rate), but it takes no genius to take a step back and see that the Brexit decision has put the UK in a worse of situation. And the reality is that it won’t improve any time soon. In fact it will get worse. My father once told me that only imbeciles do not change opinion. Too many imbeciles still left to face the facts.

The UK political landscape is a joke and I hope that Jean-Claude Juncker squeezes those conservative clowns as much as possible. Would I want a hard brexit? No. But would I care if it did, no. Why? Mainland Europe will welcome me and my fellow Europeans (incl. my investments) with open arms. So who is to lose out in the whole brexit situation? 49% of those that voted to remain and 51% of those that voted to leave.

Benoit Mercier