Tensions between the West and Russia surrounding Syria show no signs of abating. Speaking on CBS’s Face the Nation yesterday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that, whilst there was no evidence that Russia was part of the alleged chemical attack, Vladamir Putin’s government shouldered some of the blame and had “failed in its commitment to the international community”.
Tillerson was referring to the 2013 Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) agreement in which Russia agreed to ensure that Bashar Al-Assad’s chemical weapons stockpile was destroyed.
Syria is set to be the lead agenda item at the meeting of G7 foreign ministers which starts in Lucca, Italy today. Following criticism for cancelling his planned visit to Moscow later this week, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is reported to be leading calls for a tough new round of sanctions on Russia unless Putin withdraws his troops from Syria and ends support for Bashar Al-Assad.
In response, Russia and Iran have issued a joint statement threatening military retaliation if the US carries out further strikes against the Assad regime.
Let’s hope that this war of words doesn’t escalate into something more serious.
It has been confirmed that one Briton was among those killed in Friday’s lorry attack in Stockholm. Chris Bevington was a 41-year-old father of two who worked at Spotify, and was described by his family as "a wonderful husband, son, father, brother and close friend to many”. Two Swedes and one Belgian also died in the attack. According to Swedish police, the suspect is a 39-year-old man from Uzbekistan who had been facing deportation.
The NHS is in discussions with hedge funds and investment companies about borrowing £10 billion to repair hospitals and bolster GP care. Health officials believe that low interest rates are a “golden opportunity” for the health service to invest in its infrastructure without relying on the Chancellor, and the outline of an agreement with a one or two investors is thought to have been reached. However, no deal can be signed without the approval of the Treasury.
The funeral of PC Keith Palmer, the police officer killed in the Westminster attack, will take place later today with thousands expected to line the streets to pay tribute to the man described as the “perfect policeman”. PC Palmer’s body is currently lying in rest in Westminster’s Chapel of St Mary Undercroft after it was received with a guard of honour last night – an honour usually reserved for political leaders.
If you didn’t stay up to watch the final round of The Masters and are waiting until you get home tonight to watch it on record: stop reading now.
Spain’s Sergio Garcia donned the famous green jacket following a play-off victory over Justin Rose after the two finished on nine under par after 72 holes. It was Garcia’s first major victory at the 74th time of asking.
BUSINESS AND ECONOMY
An investigation by the Financial Times has found that companies in the UK have used a controversial insolvency procedure to offload £3.8bn of pension liabilities, often as part of a sale to existing directors or owners - an abuse of the Pension Protection Fund (PPF). The FT investigation found that two in three pre-pack schemes entering the PPF involved sales to existing owners or directors.
The Bank of England has been implicated in the Libor rigging scandal after a secret recording was uncovered by BBC Panorama. The recording from 2008 suggests that the central bank repeatedly pressured commercial banks to push their Libor rates - the rate that banks lend to each other and sets a benchmark for mortgages and loans for ordinary customers - down during the financial crisis. The Bank of England said Libor was not regulated in the UK at the time.
Wonga has warned 270,000 of its current and former customers that their personal data may have been stolen in a data breach. The payday lender said it was “urgently investigating illegal and unauthorised access” to the personal data of some of its customers in the UK and Poland.
Associated British Foods, the FTSE 100 company which owns high street store Primark and the sugar brand Silver Spoon, is understood to be on the hunt for a new chairman. According to Sky News, headhunting firm Spencer Stuart has been commissioned to help find a successor to Charles Sinclair, a former chief executive of The Daily Mail and General Trust who has led the company for eight years.
Highland Gold Mining Ltd., Safestay, Thalassa Holdings Ltd. (DI)
Empiric Student Property
Bank Audi S.A.L. GDR (Reg S)
COLUMNS OF NOTE
In the week that Nicola Sturgeon was in the US on an official visit, Kevin Pringle uses his column for The Sunday Times to underline the importance of leaders banging the business drum when they travel overseas.
Writing in The Guardian, Matthew d’Ancona argues that Theresa May should support the US militarily if Donald Trump decides to escalate American involvement against the Assad regime. He labels Trump a “contemptible figure” but says that, on the issue of Syria, he is right.
DID YOU KNOW?
Hiroo Onoda was the last Japanese World War II soldier to surrender in 1974. He refused to believe news of Japan’s defeat in 1945 and spent 29 years hiding in the jungles of the Philippines fighting his own guerilla war. He thought attempts to persuade him to leave were an enemy plot and was only convinced to surrender when his former commander travelled to his hideout to speak to him in person.
House of Commons
In recess until 18th April.
House of Lords
In recess until 24th April.
In recess until 18th April.