In the same way that Boris Johnson famously wrote two totally contrasting opinion pieces before picking a side ahead of the EU referendum, two drafts of this introduction were prepared to allow for both outcomes of England’s biggest football match in 28 years.
Disappointingly for most people throughout the UK, England’s most high-profile encounter since 1990 ended in the same way as that World Cup semi-final exit in Turin. This time, rather than Chris Waddle sending his penalty higher than the Trump baby blimp currently circling Westminster, a momentary lapse in concentration gave Mario Mandžukić time and space to slot the winning goal for Croatia in extra time.
If nothing else, England’s unlikely progression to the last four offered some respite from the daily trials of watching professional politicians run round in circles trying to agree a dignified exit of their own. It also brought a feelgood factor at a time when one was most definitely needed, although, sadly, it has also almost certainly guaranteed the return of a less savoury beast – the pre-tournament hype.
Most of us remember what it was like in the build-up to England’s participation at a major tournament. The endless rounds of adverts, the increasing hysteria over injuries (metatarsals, anyone?) and, of course, the terrible official songs. Between 1998 and 2010 there was a litany of crimes against music which reached its nadir with Dizzee Rascal and James Corden taking an axe to both Blackstreet and Tears for Fears.
Then it stopped. England’s ignominious thrashing by Germany at the 2010 World Cup seemed to sum up the collective loss of national confidence that coincided with the uncertainty spawned by the financial crash a couple of years earlier. Not that any of this economic catastrophe did Spain any harm, suffering with 50% youth unemployment at the time, but racking up three consecutive tournament successes between 2008-12.
Since then, there has been no expectation on England, but Russia 2018 will have changed all that, particularly as this young England squad will only improve. Football might not be coming home, but the hype most certainly is.
Donald Trump stunned NATO yesterday by ordering other members to double their defence spending targets. He used the occasion of a two-day summit at NATO’s new headquarters in Brussels to renew his complaint that America shoulders too much of the alliance’s financial burden. He went on to undermine the communique agreed by all 29 members with comments on his Twitter profile. President Trump is expected in the UK today, with protestors readying themselves for his arrival in London.
The UK Government will today publish a “Brexit Blueprint”, a White Paper which outlines the UK’s vision for future trade and co-operation with the EU. The paper has reportedly been delayed by several months due to cabinet disagreements, but was finally signed-off at Chequers last weekend.
Oxford University has apologised after mistakenly making public the names of struggling students. The university’s Medical Sciences Division accidentally sent a timetable meant for tutors to all first year undergraduate medics. Rather than identifying students only by their candidate numbers, the timetable included the names of those who were on the pass/fail borderline and would therefore be required to sit an additional oral exam.
Business & Economy
The battle for control of broadcaster Sky is fierce, with US cable group Comcast having increased its offer for the TV giant to £26bn, another £1.5bn higher than the latest offer made by Fox earlier in the day. Fox currently owns 39% of Sky and is seekng to acquire the rest of the company. Sky’s independent committee unanimously recommended the improved offer from Comcast, although a renewed bid from Fox now seems likely.
Lindsell Train, a leading shareholder in Unilever, has warned the international consumer giant that it may be forced to sell down its stake over concerns that Unilever has been “totally unreceptive” over fears around the planned move of its headquarters from the UK to the Netherlands. Lindsell Train has urged other shareholders to consider whether this move is in their best interests.
Chip maker Broadcom has announced that it will buy systems software company CA Technologies for almost $19bn. The move allows Broadcom to move into the infrastructure software space, following a series of chip acquisitions. Earlier this year President Trump blocked Broadcom’s bid for rival processor behemoth, Qualcomm.
What happened yesterday?
The FTSE 100 ended the day down 1.3%, a similar figure to other European indexes such as the Dax, Cac, FTSE MIB and Ibex, as concerns over the impending trade war between China and the US deepen.
The US has unveiled a list of thousands of Chinese products that will be subject to tariffs and companies on the index with exposure to China were among the biggest daily losers. However, the largest single fall on the FTSE 100 was British enterprise software firm Micro Focus, which was down 8.8% following underwhelming results. In terms of taking the most points off the FTSE, Royal Dutch Shell and BP were down two and 3.3% respectively.
The trend was apparent in international markets too, with the S&P 500 suffering its first fall in five days and China’s CSI 300 down 1.7%. The uncertainty has also driven industrial metal and oil prices sharply down, with copper, zinc and lead prices in London all hitting one year lows yesterday.
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International Economic Announcements
(07:00) Consumer Price Index (GER)
(10:00) Industrial Production (EU)
(13:30) Consumer Price Index (US)
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Columns of Note
David Aaronovitch, writing in The Times, urges those in the Remain camp, especially on the Labour side, to consider supporting the prime minister’s Chequers plan. Whilst admitting the plan has flaws, he argues that it is a vast improvement on the direction the UK Government appeared to be headed, as evidenced by the reaction of most Brexiteers. He also reverses his previous support for a second vote, suggesting that it will not solve the problem and will instead create new divisions.
The FT’s Janan Ganesh urges Democrats in the US not to follow the path of centre-left parties in Europe. Ganesh acknowledges that the Democrats are right not to assume that simply waiting for Trump to fail will let them back in, but says there is no need to copy the practices across the Atlantic, where European centre left parties are “squeezed…between true socialists and the jingoistic right” and are having to radically alter their offering.
Did you know?
In 1997, 3 men from Yemen tried to sue NASA for ‘trespassing’ on Mars, following the first successful exploration of the Red Planet by Pathfinder. The men claimed they had inherited Mars from their ancestors 3,000 years ago. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the case was thrown out.
House of Commons
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
Practice of forced adoption in the UK - Alison McGovern, Stephen Twigg
Lessons from the collapse of Carillion - Rachel Reeves
House of Lords
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 Embryology Act 2008 - Baroness Deech
Contribution of Home Office funding to Operation Conifer conducted by the Wilshire Police - Lord Lexden
Promoting personal saving and its role in building a stronger and fairer economy - Lord Leigh of Hurley
Gender recognition process and the Government's LGBT Action Plan - Lord Lucas
Engaging with small charities and faith-based organisations in delivering UK aid overseas - Baroness Stroud
Recess until 3rd September
House of Commons
House of Lords
Recess until 3rd September