A year ago, Britain was “conspicuously absent” when our neighbours hashed out plans to turn the North Sea into a “massive green power plant”, says Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in The Daily Telegraph. That frosty stand-off now “seems like another world”. This week, British officials are attending the North Sea Summit in Belgium as “full equals”, having already signed a sweeping energy cooperation agreement with the EU last December. Since the invasion of Ukraine, there’s been a “complete change in political weather” in Europe. The UK’s import terminals for liquefied natural gas are the “unsung heroes” of the continent’s energy war, shipping in supplies from the US and Qatar. We now export more gas to the EU than Russia does – a “key reason” why Europe survived the winter without blackouts.
This “blossoming rapprochement” between London and Brussels – clinched by Rishi Sunak’s Northern Ireland deal – has made global economists and investors see Britain in a much more favourable light. Standard & Poor’s has upgraded our sovereign debt rating from “negative watch” to “stable AA”. Government borrowing last year was £13.2bn lower than previously thought; domestic investment is way up from its 2016 level. What’s more, Sunak has struck a deal to join the Pacific free trade pact, which looks set to become the world’s largest trade bloc – and one that doesn’t require political union or “the jurisdiction of a supranational court”. As the PM fills the “blank pages of Britain’s post-EU playbook”, I’m “starting to feel the first flush of optimism”.