Having spent the tail end of this weekend in a darkened room, nursing a throbbing head and weeping quietly into my pillow, this morning’s briefing was a welcome distraction from my own utter self-pity.
Before you ask, no it’s not another hangover. This time I was simply a victim of my own ambition, having conjured up delusions of athletic grandeur far beyond my actual ability and run enthusiastically to the gym in 34-degree heat.
You can imagine the tragic scene when I staggered, bleary-eyed on to the packed bus home, pleading for my stop – or rather the sweet kiss of death – to appear like a mirage.
But while I wallowed in my own sheer inadequacy and prayed for the banging to stop, it seems I wasn’t the only one who might have had ideas above her station.
Ivanka Trump took a stab at diplomacy this weekend, tagging along with dad once again to make an appearance at the G20 Summit in Osaka. And daughter-dearest did not disappoint on the gaff front.
The most toe-curling was her insertion into a conversation between Theresa May, Justin Trudeau, Emmanuel Macron and IMF chief Christine Lagarde. Yes, really.
The interaction was released by the French government and was spine-chillingly cringe-worthy; Lagarde’s reaction alone was nothing short of marvellous and will no doubt make top-notch gif material for years to come.
But, while Ivanka was busy swanning around in her designer ensembles and behaving like Bridget Jones in that scene where she asks where the toilets are, behind the scenes more fiery diplomatic tensions were rearing their ugly heads.
Although Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe may have described the Summit as a success, undeniable chasms punctured discourse from the start. From climate change to the future of western liberalism, leaders were at logger-heads over fundamental moral issues.
Washington once again failed to join the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stem the climate emergency; the US and China were still at each other’s throats over their impassioned trade war; and Putin was back at it with his dismissal of liberalism and immigration.
Moreover, the presence of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince was met with vehement opposition after the widely publicised murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year, allegedly at the hands of the state.
So, while on the surface all seems well and good, bubbling behind Ivanka’s plastic smile and a bland closing declaration with the same-old promises of peace and compromise, is a hot soup of mutual contempt just itching to bubble over.
Police and protesters have clashed in Hong Kong on the 22nd anniversary of its shift from British to Chinese rule. Tensions have been high in recent weeks over a controversial extradition bill, which would allow people to be sent to mainland China for trial. The government has agreed to suspend it indefinitely, but the rallies continue, with police using pepper spray and batons to contain protesters.
One of Boris Johnson’s key cabinet allies has promised that the Conservative leadership hopeful will show “some love” to public-sector workers with a pay rise to “properly reward” them for the job they do. (£)
The Mexican city of Guadalajara has been left carpeted in a thick layer of iceafter a heavy hail storm. The ice was up to five feet thick in some places, half-burying vehicles. The freak weather incident comes as the city has been baking in 30-degree heat. Authorities say 200 homes have been damaged and dozens of vehicles swept away in the city and surrounding districts, but there has been no loss to human life.
Business & Economy
HSBC has stepped up engagement with Chinese officials in an effort to convince the government that it is not responsible for the arrest of Huawei’s finance director. Meng Wanzhou, who is also the daughter of the company’s founder, is currently out on bail in Canada, where her lawyers are trying to prevent her extradition to the US to face charges of bank and wire fraud. (£)
Tory leadership hopeful Jeremy Hunt angered business groups yesterday after he said he would willingly tell people whose companies went bust after a no-deal Brexit that their sacrifice had been necessary. The comments mark a shift towards the firmer language of his opponent Boris Johnson, with Hunt adding that he will pursue a no-deal Brexit if a new departure deal looks impossible at the start of October.
Mobile phone customers can now switch providers with a single free textunder new rules. Previously, customers had to phone their mobile provider when they wanted to switch to a new contract – one of the main factors stopping people from switching.
The week ahead
This week the EU begins a new cycle and members of the European Parliament will meet for the opening session of a five-year legislature following elections at the end of May. They will choose a new president, vice-presidents and committee heads to scrutinise and amend legislation in the years ahead.
And the new cycle marks a sea-change. No longer do centrist candidates have the majority. The new legislature is more fragmented and polarised than before. On Tuesday, the European Commission will decide whether to take an excessive deficit procedure for Italy’s rising debt levels.
Greece goes to the polls on Sunday in a snap election prompted by the ruling Syriza party, who suffered a hefty defeat in voting for the European Parliament last month. The vote takes place almost four months before the left-wing government’s term was due to expire.
Meanwhile in the UK, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt are taking part in hustings around the country in an effort to secure the top spot. Postal ballots will be sent out to members at the weekend.
Finally, J Sainsbury will report first-quarter results on Wednesday. Sales are expected to fall slightly as the retailer’s share price languishes at multiyear lows after a failed attempt to take over rival Asda. And chief executive Mike Coupe could face backlash from investors at the AGM the next day – his overall pay rose almost 7 per cent in the past financial year.
UK Economic Announcements
(09:30) Mortgage Approvals
(09:30) PMI Manufacturing
(09:30) M4 Money Supply
Int. Economic Announcements
(08:55) Unemployment Rate (GER)
(08:55) PMI Manufacturing (GER)
(09:00) M3 Money Supply (EU)
(09:00) PMI Manufacturing (EU)
(10:00) Unemployment Rate (EU)
(14:45) PMI Manufacturing (US)
(15:00) ISM Manufacturing (US)
(15:00) Construction Spending (US)
(15:00) ISM Prices Paid (US)
Columns of Note
Writing in The New Yorker, Robin Wright examines the bizarre diplomacy ofTrump’s curious rendezvous with Kim Jong Un at the demilitarised zone between North and South Korea. The impromptu meeting, which was announced just the day before on Twitter, marks the resumption of talks between the two states next month. Little concrete progress was made on wresting deadly weapons from the world’s most brutal regime, however. (£)
In this month’s Atlantic, William Langewische asks: what really happened to Malaysia’s missing airplane? This deep dive into the events of 8 March 2014 sheds light on the secrets that officials daren’t say. Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing took off as normal. But an extremely unusual detour in flight path that took the plane away from its destination and towards Antarctica before crashing into the Indian Ocean, has baffled international investigators for the past five years. Langewische argues that the investigation should now change its focus: stop trying to find the black box in the Indian Ocean; the Malaysian police have much more information than they let on.
Did you know?
In 1989 the cash-strapped Soviet Union paid Pepsi with 17 submarines and 3 war ships. Pepsi sold these for scrap, but the deal briefly made them owners of the sixth largest military submarine fleet in the world.
House of Commons
Work and Pensions (including Topical Questions)
6th Allotted Day - Estimates relating to the Department for International Development and the Department for Education – Jesse Norman
Children’s palliative care – Dr Caroline Johnson
House of Lords
EU law-making process, in particular the roles and powers of the (1) European Commission, (2) COREPER, (3) the Council of Ministers, (4) the European Court of Justice, and (5) the European Parliament – Lord Pearson of Rannoch
The motion by the House of Commons declaring an environment and climate emergency – Lord Haskel
Ensuring the accuracy of any statistics used by ministers in parliamentary proceedings – Lord Foulkes of Cumnock
Recommendations of the Taskforce for Lung Health’s five year plan for improving lung health in England – Lord Hunt of Kings Heath
Report from the Economic Affairs Committee 'Measuring Inflation – Lord Forsyth of Drumlean
Report from the Select Committee on Regenerating Seaside Towns and Communities 'The future of seaside towns' – Lord Bassam of Brighton
On recess until 1 September 2019
House of Commons
HM Treasury (including Topical Questions)
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Breast Cancer Screening (Women under 40) – Andrew Griffiths
7th Allotted Day - Estimates relating to the Department for Work and Pensions and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government – Jesse Norman
Main Estimates 2019-20 – Jesse Norman
Unemployment among people with autism – Marion Fellows
House of Lords
The Lord Bishop Derby
Increasing the number of homes for social rent – Lord Evans of Watford
Ensuring that appropriate consideration is being given by all departments to other policy areas alongside the preparations for the UK's departure from the EU – Baroness Massey of Darwen
Government action to support access to justice for displaced people from the Yazidi community in Iraq and to enable survivors of Daesh violence to return home – Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale
Ensuring that there is adequate provision of GP services in rural areas – Baroness McIntosh of Pickering
Child Support (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019 – Baroness Buscombe
Courts and Tribunals (Online Procedure) Bill [HL] - Third reading – Lord Keen of Elie
Augar Review of Post-18 Education and Funding – Viscount Younger of Leckie