10 Aug 2018

Scott Reid

10 Aug 2018

Good morning, 

“It is not personal and it has nothing to do with Brexit, it is simply the same rules that apply to everyone in the party.”
 
So says a source close to the Conservative Party chairman, Brandon Lewis MP, who is today faced with the difficult - if perhaps tantalising – prospect of taking disciplinary action against Boris Johnson following comments he made in a Telegraph column about women who wear the niqab. 
 
But remember, readers: this is Boris Johnson and the modern day Conservative Party we’re talking about. Aside from the obvious offense the column caused to Muslim women, it would be remiss not to suggest that this whole episode is entirely personal and has everything to do with Brexit. 
 
The problem with taking any action, however, is that time and again the Tory high command has shown that the same rules don’t necessarily apply to everyone. Not least in the case of the former foreign secretary. 
 
Take your pick: a gaffe which may have condemned a British woman to longer detention in Iran;  suggesting President’s Obama “part-Kenyan” heritage meant an “ancestral dislike” of Britain; or indeed, implying intimate relations between the Turkish president and a goat for the sake of winning a magazine write-in competition. The list goes on (and this one is worth a read).
 
Today the comedian Rowan Atkinson rises to his defense in The Times, suggesting that Johnson has no need to apologise: “As a lifelong beneficiary of the freedom to make jokes about religion, I do think that Boris Johnson’s joke about wearers of the burka resembling letterboxes is a pretty good one.” (£)
 
His jokes may or may not be funny, but to say so misses the point. Politicians aren’t comedians, or at least (to quote Sir Humphrey Appleby in Yes Minister) not professional ones. As representatives of the people, they must be held to a higher standard. To say otherwise makes a joke of our public life.

News

The CBI has called on the UK government to scrap all immigration targets and ensure its Tier 2 visa system for skilled migrants is not extended to EU citizens after Brexit. CBI deputy director-general, Josh Hardie, said that putting a “migration” offer on the table during Brexit negotiations would secure a better deal, and would allow companies to meet their staffing needs without interference.
 
Only one in every 100 banks and buildings societies has passed on the Bank of England’s interest rate rise to savers, according to the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee. Chairwoman of the committee, Nicky Morgan MP, pointed out that although HSBC, Lloyds, RBS and Barclays all have plans to increase the costs of their mortgage products, there was no evidence of introducing reciprocal arrangements for savers. The FCA is currently considering whether to compel banks to pay minimum interest to all customers with cash savings. (£)
 
Heavy floods in southern France have forced the evacuation of more than 1,600 people.The worst-hit areas of Gard, Ardèche and Drôme have mostly affected holidaying campers, with more than 400 firefighters and police currently deployed.

 

Business & Economy 

House of Fraser is to appoint administrators after talks with investors and creditors “had not concluded in a solvent solution”. Administrators Ernst & Young has confirmed that the business would continue trading on Friday, including all 59 shops and offices remaining open. House of Fraser employs 17,500 people including 11,500 concession staff across the UK.
 
The ECB has expressed concern that some of the eurozone’s biggest lenders may be overly-exposed to debt in Turkey following a dramatic fall in the value of the lira. According to the FT, the Single Supervisory Mechanism, which is ECB’s financial watchdog, has pointed out that Spain’s BBVA, Italy’s UniCredit and France’s BNP Paribas were all particularly exposed. The lira has fallen more than 30% since the start of the year, including a four per cent fall yesterday to hit an all-time low. (£)
 
Ryanair pilots across Germany, Sweden, Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands go on strike today, forcing the cancellation of one in six of the airline’s total flights. The 24-hour walk-out is largest action to date over a pay and conditions dispute. Up to 50,000 passengers are thought to be affected by the cancellations across 400 flights.
 
Ineos has selected German company MBTech as the principal engingeering company behind its successor to the Land Rover Defender. A decision is yet to made on the project’s manufacturing site, which several sites across the UK and Germany thought to be in the running. Ineos’ chief executive, Jim Ratcliffe, has been a prominent public supporter of Brexit, and yesterday made public his decision to relocate to Monaco. (£)

Markets 

What happened yesterday? 
The London market took a turn for the worse on Thursday as geopolitical tensions rose to the fore on news that the US is to impose fresh sanctions on Russia, following the Skripal poisonings earlier this year. This led the FTSE 100 to fall by 0.45% to finish at 7,741.77 points.
 
Stronger economic data coming out of China than analysts had expected (including a 2.1% rise in consumer prices in July and PPI 4.6% higher) led miners to have a good day on the markets. Antofagasta (up 1.75%), Fresnillo (2.45%) and Randgold Resources (up 1.82%) were all up, also benefitting from higher copper prices.
 
This was a rare area of gains, however, as several of the FTSE’s largest stocks went ex-dividend, including BT Group (down 4.58%), BP (down 2.13%), Royal Dutch Shell (down 1.85%) and Diageo (down 1.22%). Insurer Legal & General (0.0%) bucked the trend to finish flat as it produced first-half operating profits that were ahead of City forecasts.
 
The pound also finished on a lacklustre note, despite suggestions that the EU is considering allowing the UK to remain within the single market for goods while leaving Westminster to opt out of free movement of people. By close of trading, sterling was down 0.16% against the dollar at $1.29, but managed to notch up 0.23% versus the euro at €1.11.

 

Interims
Afarak Group (DI)
Vitec Group
 
Q2 Results  
Afarak Group (DI)
 
Trading Announcements
Volution Group (WI)
 
AGMs
Adams
Heath (Samuel) & Sons
iEnergizer Ltd.

Annual Report
Adams
 
UK Economic Announcements
(09:30) Balance of Trade 
(09:30) GDP (Preliminary) 
(09:30) Gross Domestic Product 
(09:30) Index of Services 
(09:30) Industrial Production 
(09:30) Manufacturing Production
 
Intl. Economic Announcements
(13:30) Consumer Price Index (US)

 

Columns of Note 

Philip Colins writes in the Times that if a new party is to be set-up, its focus shouldn’t be Brexit. Collins writes that not only would describing the new party as “centrist” show a failure to learn from the mistakes which led to Brexit, but that it would risk being seen to lack an ideological anchor and simply be another career route for past leaders of the Cameroon Tory party and New Labour. Instead, a party should set out a programme in support of the market economy, tackling education and wage inequalities in the name of competition, and shifting income tax towards a land-based system. (£)
 
Ben Marlow comments in The Telegraph that Elon Musk’s plans to take Tesla private would make it accessible only to the very wealthy. Marlow whittles down the possible pool of investors, suggesting private equity managers will be put off by the huge anticipated costs, leaving the most likely candidates to be large sovereign wealth funds – particularly Saudi – and Japan’s Softbank. (£)

Did you know? 

Although only six people are known to have died in the Great Fire of London of 1666, at least 7 have died since, after falling or jumping from the Monument that was erected in its memory in 1671-7. A safety rail was installed in 1842.

Parliamentary highlights 

House of Commons
In recess until September 4, 2018.
 
House of Lords
In recess until September 4, 2018.
 
Scottish Parliament
In recess until September 4, 2018.