A spring in the step of the Prancing Horse

Ferrari goes from strength to strength

The UK may have entered a double dip recession but that doesn’t seem to have impeded the spring in the step of the Prancing Horse.

While the rest of us are counting the pennies and praying the motor gets through its next MoT, luxury car brand Ferrari goes from strength to strength.

Perhaps the super rich, put off philanthropy by the Government’s tax shenanigans, have decided to splash out on 200 grand sports cars instead.

Ferrari grew UK sales by 31 per cent in the first quarter of the year with 177 models delivered to customers. This performance outstripped encouraging results in other markets, which saw sales rise 16 per cent in the USA, 24 per cent in Germany and 23 per cent in the Middle East.

Overall, revenues were up 13 per cent to 556m Euro with net profit leaping 17 per cent to 42m Euro.

Ferrari said the success resulted from enthusiasm for the 12-cylinder FF, the continuing popularity of the 8-cylinder California, its top selling GT, and demand for the coupe and spider versions of the 458 sports car. Ferrari pointed out that the F12 Berlinetta, its most powerful ever model and the first in a new generation of V12s made no contribution to the first quarter results as deliveries do not start until the second half of the year.

In its native Italy however, the Fiat-owned marque suffered a downturn, selling 121 cars – a drop of 34 per cent compared to thefirst quarter of 2011.

Ferrari blamed this on the economic situation and "the local government’s recent financial initiatives". A clampdown on tax fraud coupled with a hike in car taxes have curbed the traditional Italian enthusiasm for high performance sports cars.

Ferrari has expanded its retail network in the UK with prestige car dealers JCT600 and HR Owen opening new showrooms this year.

James Dallas is deputy editor of What Van?

Photograph: Getty Images

James Dallas is deputy editor of What Van?

Getty Images.
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Voters are turning against Brexit but the Lib Dems aren't benefiting

Labour's pro-Brexit stance is not preventing it from winning the support of Remainers. Will that change?

More than a year after the UK voted for Brexit, there has been little sign of buyer's remorse. The public, including around a third of Remainers, are largely of the view that the government should "get on with it".

But as real wages are squeezed (owing to the Brexit-linked inflationary spike) there are tentative signs that the mood is changing. In the event of a second referendum, an Opinium/Observer poll found, 47 per cent would vote Remain, compared to 44 per cent for Leave. Support for a repeat vote is also increasing. Forty one per cent of the public now favour a second referendum (with 48 per cent opposed), compared to 33 per cent last December. 

The Liberal Democrats have made halting Brexit their raison d'être. But as public opinion turns, there is no sign they are benefiting. Since the election, Vince Cable's party has yet to exceed single figures in the polls, scoring a lowly 6 per cent in the Opinium survey (down from 7.4 per cent at the election). 

What accounts for this disparity? After their near-extinction in 2015, the Lib Dems remain either toxic or irrelevant to many voters. Labour, by contrast, despite its pro-Brexit stance, has hoovered up Remainers (55 per cent back Jeremy Corbyn's party). 

In some cases, this reflects voters' other priorities. Remainers are prepared to support Labour on account of the party's stances on austerity, housing and education. Corbyn, meanwhile, is a eurosceptic whose internationalism and pro-migration reputation endear him to EU supporters. Other Remainers rewarded Labour MPs who voted against Article 50, rebelling against the leadership's stance. 

But the trend also partly reflects ignorance. By saying little on the subject of Brexit, Corbyn and Labour allowed Remainers to assume the best. Though there is little evidence that voters will abandon Corbyn over his EU stance, the potential exists.

For this reason, the proposal of a new party will continue to recur. By challenging Labour over Brexit, without the toxicity of Lib Dems, it would sharpen the choice before voters. Though it would not win an election, a new party could force Corbyn to soften his stance on Brexit or to offer a second referendum (mirroring Ukip's effect on the Conservatives).

The greatest problem for the project is that it lacks support where it counts: among MPs. For reasons of tribalism and strategy, there is no emergent "Gang of Four" ready to helm a new party. In the absence of a new convulsion, the UK may turn against Brexit without the anti-Brexiteers benefiting. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.