11 July 2018

Daisy Penman

11 July 2018

Good morning, 

There was a collective sigh of relief yesterday as it was announced that all 12 boys and their football coach trapped in a Thai cave have been freed.

The boys had been trapped for 17 days in the flooded passages of the Tham Luang cave, initially with barely any food or water and diminishing air supplies.

They were taken into hospital last night but there were no reports of any serious injuries. The Thai prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, promised to host a celebration for all those involved in the rescue effort - roughly 100,000 people, according to some estimates.

The rescue didn’t require the help of tech mogul Elon Musk, despite his best efforts. The billionaire had promised that his SpaceX rocket team were on the case to conjure up a “kid-size” submarine that could whisk the boys out of the cave to safety. 

Musk arrived at the caves armed with the mini-sub his team had assembled - “it is made of rocket parts,” he said on Twitter, “& named Wild Boar after kids’ soccer team.” He left it with the officials and returned home.

Musk’s efforts were in vain. The head of the search operation, Narongsak Osottanakorn, said yesterday that “the equipment he brought to help is not practical for our mission,” and assured the public that it had not been touched. Musk responded by stating that Mr Narongsak “is not the subject matter expert.”

Despite this rather embarrassing episode for Musk, Tesla, his electric vehicle company, announced on Tuesday that they had signed an agreement with Chinese authorities to build a battery and automobile factory in Shanghai.

News 

President Trump has named his nominee for the Supreme Court to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is retiring. Brett Kavanaugh, a conservative judge on the US court of appeals for the DC circuit, has been involved in high-profile political battles, including the impeachment of Bill Clinton, and he faces a tough confirmation hearing by the Senate before the midterm elections in November.

The head of counter-terrorism at the Metropolitan Police, Neil Basu, has said that a dose of the nerve agent novichok could remain active for up to 50 years. Speaking at a public meeting in Amesbury, where two people were recently exposed to the chemical, Basu reiterated the need for “witnesses or intelligence” in order to find and dispose of any remaining doses of novichok. Charlie Rowley, one of the two accidentally exposed to the nerve agent, made a “small but significant” improvement in hospital yesterday. Dawn Sturgess, the other victim, died earlier this week.

Two further Tory party figures resigned from their posts yesterday in protest at Theresa May’s ‘soft-Brexit’ plan agreed at Chequers last Friday. May insisted that she can achieve a “smooth and orderly Brexit” in a press conference with Angela Merkel, who offered modest support.

Business & Economy 

Facebook has been issued with a fine of £500,000, the maximum possible, for its part in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The fine is for two breaches of the Data Protection Act, as the Information Commissioner’s Office concluded that Facebook failed to protect its users’ details and was not sufficiently transparent about how that data was used by others.

The new chairman of Marks & Spencer, Archie Norman, has told shareholders that the chain is on a “burning platform” and may cease to exist in coming years if significant changes are not made. The retailer has been struggling for the past decade, with profits halving from about £1 billion to roughly £580 million. Norman is seeking to revive sales in the clothing and home divisions while also growing its food business - this may involve store closures and redundancies.

Sir Martin Sorrell has hit back at accusations from his former company WPPafter his current venture, S4 Capital, won a bid for the digital agency MediaMonks. WPP had also bid for the Dutch company, and they accuse Sorrell of unlawfully using information gleaned while he was still there in order to win the bid. Sorrell told the Press Association that it was “ridiculous” to suggest that S4 and WPP were competing head-to-head and has asked WPP to provide evidence of his involvement in its bid for Media Monks.

Markets 

What happened yesterday? 

The FTSE 100 finished the day up 0.05% at 7,903.50 and the pound regained the losses it had made during the turmoil in the government, as investors bet that the cabinet agreement on Brexit would survive two senior ministerial departures.

Escalation of the trade war between the US and China caused China-focused stocks to lead a broad sell-off in Asia-Pacific equities, as President Trump has begun the process of imposing tariffs on a further $200 billion of imports from China. Robert Lighthizer, US trade representative, said that the decision was a direct response to China imposing tariffs on $34 billion of US exports and the threat of levies on another $16 billion.

Foreign investors remain nervous about Turkey’s economy as President Erdogan appoints his son-in-law as treasury and finance minister, essentially giving him full control of the economy. After the announcement, the Turkish lira, already down 17% from the start of the year, suffered its biggest one-day drop since the coup attempt in July 2016.

Finals

Micro Focus International

 

AGMs

Air Partner

Audioboom Group

BT Group

Fishing Republic

OnTheMarket

Sainsbury (J)

Veltyco Group

International Economic Announcements

(12:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US)

(13:30) Producer Price Index (US)

(15:00) Wholesales Inventories (US)

(15:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)

Columns of Note 

In The Times, Daniel Finkelstein analyses the decisions made by Boris Johnson and David Davis prior to their resignations. He applies strategy theory to determine their motivations and possible future moves, concluding that Davis and Johnson realised that, no matter what they do, the Brexit outcome they desire will not come to fruition.

In The Financial Times, George Monbiot argues that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s win in the New York primary last month signals a shift in America, one that will carry through to the midterms in November. Monbiot interviewed those involved with running far-left candidates and relays the sentiment that US politics is ready now for young, progressive candidates who don’t come from political backgrounds and aren’t supported by big investors.

Did you know? 

There are purple ribbons attached to the coat-hangers in the members’ cloakroom in parliament so that MPs have a place to hang their swords as well as their coats. Apparently, at least one MP still takes advantage of this.

Parliamentary highlights 

TODAY

House of Commons
Oral questions
Scotland

Prime Minister's Question Time

Opposition Day Debate
Universal Credit - Jeremy Corbyn

House of Lords
Oral questions
Prevention of contract cheating in UK universities - Lord Stoney

Ensuring disabled children are not unfairly excluded from school - Lord Touhig

Publication of the government's Green Paper on the future funding of adult social care - Lord Warner

Establishing the new train timetables around the country - Baroness Randerson

Scottish Parliament

Recess until 3rd September

 

TOMORROW

House of Commons

Oral Questions

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (including Topical Questions)

Select Committee Statement

Tenth Report of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Global Britain and the Western Balkans, HC 1013

Backbench Business

Practice of forced adoption in the UK - Alison McGovern, Stephen Twigg

Lessons from the collapse of Carillion - Rachel Reeves

House of Lords

Oral Questions

How many Sure Start Centres have opened in the past two years - Baroness Massey of Darwen

Reviewing the ten year limit on the storage of frozen eggs for social reasons under the Human Fertilisation and Embryollogy Act 2008 - Baroness Deech

Contribution of Home Office funding to Operation Conifer conducted by the Wilshire Police - Lord Lexden

Scottish Parliament

Recess until 3rd September