You might expect Brexit to have been at the top of Theresa May’s mind as she attended the last EU leaders’ summit before she plans to trigger Article 50, but that was not the case.
While in Brussels, May was forced to focus on domestic issues and made a desperate bid to head off a public rebellion by senior Conservatives, including a government minister. She said she would delay legislating the implementation of a controversial national insurance rise for self-employed workers announced in the spring Budget, until the autumn.
Despite Poland’s best efforts, the European Union leaders appointed Donald Tusk to a second term as President of the European Council. Tusk’s home country had argued that the decision should be delayed and that Tusk was using his European Council presidency to interfere in Poland’s domestic politics.
Although you can’t say Poland did not try, they were overruled by leaders of the 27 other European Union member states. In fact, it was the first time such a decision was made without unanimity since the job was created in 2009.
The European leaders were clearly keen to get down to topical discussions and present an impression of continuity and stability ahead of elections in France, Germany and the Netherlands, where anti-European populists have been doing well in the polls.
Today, EU leaders will meet for a second day of talks without Prime Minister Theresa May to discuss their future, before a ceremony in Rome on 25th March to mark six decades since the bloc’s foundations were laid.
The South Korean Constitutional Court voted to uphold an impeachment vote against President Park Geun-hye over a graft scandal involving the country’s conglomerates. The move sparked protests from her supporters, two of whom were killed in clashes with police. Geun-hye has become the first democratically elected South Korean president to be forced from office
The Parliament’s spending watchdog said MPs and peers should vacate the crumbling Palace of Westminster for around six years while vital renovation works take place. Public Accounts Committee (PAC) described the historic building as being in a state of “extreme disrepair”.
German police said they had detained a man who attacked seven people at Duesseldorf central train station with an axe yesterday. One of those attacked was seriously injured. The spokesman said police were investigating whether more attackers had been involved but had no indication to suggest that.
Business & Economy
Although Airbnb is reported to have no plans to list its shares on the stock market in the near future, the short-term rental startup raised more than $1 billion in its latest round of financing, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Airbnb was last reported to be raising cash at a $30 billion valuation, making it the second-most valuable start-up in the US, trailing only Uber. This latest round of funding ups the valuation to approximately $31 billion.
Barclays has awarded Paul Compton, its chief operating officer, shares worth £7.5 million after he joined from JP Morgan Chase last year. In total, the bank handed out £13.6 million in share awards to ten senior staff. Most European investment bankers received smaller bonuses in 2016 as their employers cut costs and sought to meet shareholder demands for a greater share of profits.
A prosecution witness in the trial of two bankers for manipulating Liborinterest rates has accepted banks could put rates higher or lower without necessarily breaking the rules and told a court there was an “inherent conflict of interest” in Libor’s governance. Former Barclays traders Ryan Reich and Stelios Contogoulas are accused of conspiracy to defraud by rigging Libor.
The London market closed lower yesterday after a further fall in the price of oil hit mining stocks. The FTSE 100 ended the day 0.27%, or 19.65 points, lower at 7314.96.
The price of oil has been falling on fears that increased US production will offset Opec efforts to curb supply, thereby suppressing prices.
Brent Crude lost 2.7% to $51.69 a barrel, its lowest level in three months, while US West Texas Intermediate fell below $49 a barrel.
Retail stocks also dropped after disappointing full-year results from John Lewis.
Morrisons was the biggest faller on the FTSE 100 — down 6.56% — even though it posted a rise in underlying full-year profits for the first time in five years.
In the FTSE 250, Domino’s Pizza sank more than 14% after the takeaway chain reported a slowdown in sales at the start of the year.
On the currency markets, the pound lifted 0.2% against the dollar to $1.2190, but dropped 0.33% against the euro to 1.15070 euros.
Alpha Pyrenees Trust (ALPH)
esure Group plc (ESUR)
Oxford PharmaScience Group Plc (OXP)
Pennant International Group (PEN)
C & C Group plc (CCR)
Private & Commercial Finance Group (PCF)
International Economic Announcements
(7:00) Balance of Trade (GER)
(7:00) Current Account (GER)
(13:30) Non-Farm Payrolls (US)
(13:30) Unemployment Rate (US)
Source: FTSE100, The Financial Times
Columns of Note
In The Times, Michael Gove writes that Prime Minister Theresa May is our first Catholic leader and her “outlook on life is informed by traditional Anglo-Catholic beliefs that pose a risk to our post-Brexit future”. Gove reveals May gave up her favourite crisps for lent and uncovers the religious family background that has shaped the British PM.
Calling the Conservatives “cynical”, John Harris insists that the budget “exposed a party happy to help the big bosses while penalizing the little people”. What Harris also notices is that the morning after the budget, newspaper headlines featured loads of stories from self-employed traders pushed to the brink of destruction but the press failed to notice the fact that young people have also been let down.
Cartoon Source: The Times
Did you know?
Armadillos have four babies at a time, always of the same sex. They are perfect quadruplets (the fertilized cell split into quarters, resulting in four identical armadillos).
House of Commons
No business scheduled
House of Lords
* Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence Bill — 2nd reading — Baroness Gale
* Homelessness Reduction Bill — Committee stage — Committee of the Whole House — Lord Best
* Parking Places (Variation of Charges) Bill — Committee stage — Committee of the Whole House — Baroness Redfern
* Political Parties (Funding and Expenditure) Bill [HL] — 2nd reading — Lord Tyler
No business scheduled
House of Commons
Defence, including Topical Questions
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) — Diana Johnson
European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill — Consideration of Lords amendments (day 1) — Mr David Davis
Continuation of the Budget debate
House of Lords
* The need for women’s domestic violence and sexual violence services in the UK — Baroness Donaghy
* Future trade and migration from and to Commonwealth countries after the UK leaves the EU — Baroness Berridge
* Resources available to Border Force, Her Majesty’s Coastguard, the NCA and police forces to combat illegal import of firearms, drugs and other dangerous materials into the UK — Lord Harris of Haringey
Higher Education and Research Bill — Report stage (day 3) — Viscount Younger of Leckie