When Theresa May extended the invitation of a state visit to President Trump less than a month after he had been sworn into office, it was deemed premature and the sign of a UK desperate for a free trade deal post-Brexit. After all, President Obama, the first African-American president, who had swept to power on a tide of hope, had to wait three years for a state visit. And President George W. Bush, with whom Tony Blair had a famously close relationship, did not get a state visit until his second term.
Since January, the political costs of a Trump state visit have become apparent. There would undoubtedly be demonstrations and Speaker John Bercow has already declared that Trump would not be allowed to address MPs at the Palace of Westminster.
This could be a disappointment for Trump, known to like his grandeur – he is said to have requested a carriage ride down The Mall, afternoon tea with the Queen, and a round of golf at Balmoral.
It is now being reported that a compromise is being discussed in which Trump would visit the UK in early 2018 as part of a “working visit”, rather than a full state visit. He would still be granted an audience with the Queen.
Few would dispute that Trump is a controversial and divisive figure, whose standards of professional behaviour - such as his inability to observe national security protocols - make him unfit to hold office in the eyes of many, before even taking a view on his policies.
However, the UK has in the past afforded state visits to other questionable figures. Why the public outcry when it comes to Trump? Is it due to the fact we expect better of the leader of the free world, occasionally our closest ally? Is it because his twitter outbursts and reality TV personality make his behaviour more accessible on a day-to-day basis? Or is he really worse than Robert Mugabe?
One to ponder.
Sally Jones, the British jihadist nicknamed the “White Widow”, is believed to have been killed in a US drone strike in Syria. Jones, originally from Kent, was an IS recruiter and fled to Syria in 2013. Her husband Junaid Hussain, an IS hacker, was killed in a drone strike in August 2015. It is believed that Jones’ 12-year-old son Jojo may have also died in the blast that killed his mother.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which hosts the Oscars, is holding emergency talks to consider the future of Harvey Weinstein following claims of sexual misconduct. Films produced by Weinstein’s companies – Miramax and Weinstein Company – have been awarded 81 Oscars in total. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has already suspended his membership. Yesterday, Cara Delevingne became the latest actress to accuse Weinstein of assault.
Brexit talks are at a standstill and no there have been no substantial advances in the fifth round of negotiations, according to diplomatic sources. It is now widely expected that the EU will state that there has been insufficient progress to allow talks to move on from the divorce agreement to future trade negotiations. Brexit Secretary David Davis and the EU’s chief negotiator are expected to provide an update later today.
Shona McCarthy, the chief executive of the Edinburgh Fringe, says the city needs to stop worrying about whether art festivals have become too big. Critics have said that too much pressure is being put on the city’s infrastructure but McCarthy pointed to the success and economic benefits of the International Festival, Book Festival and Military Tattoo. Her comments came ahead of a seminar on the future of Edinburgh later this month, hosted by The Times.
BUSINESS AND ECONOMY
Legislation aimed at cutting energy bills for households on a standard variable tariff is being unveiled in the House of Commons today. The Draft Domestic Gas and Electricity (Tariffs Cap) Bill, which was promised in Theresa May’s party conference speech, will allow Ofgem to impose a price cap on standard variable tariffs which are considered poor value and exploit customer loyalty. However, it is unlikely to take effect in time for this winter.
Frank Field, the chair of the Commons work and pensions committee, has the pension obligations of another collapsed company in his sights. The committee’s investigations into the BHS pension scheme preceded Sir Philip Green’s payment of £363 million to help plug the gap. Now it is the turn of Monarch Airlines which went into administration earlier this month. Field has sent a letter to Alan Rubenstein, chief executive of the PPF, questioning a £7.5 million loan made to private equity firm Greybull Capital, which owned Monarch.
Young first-time buyers are increasing their overall mortgage debt through longer term mortgages in an attempt to deal with higher property prices and squeezed incomes. According to L&C Mortgages, the average mortgage term is lengthening from the traditional 25 years, with the proportion of new buyers taking out 31 to 35-year mortgages doubling in 10 years. This means lower monthly repayments but a larger overall bill – sometimes tens of thousands of pounds extra - due to the additional interest accrued.
What happened yesterday?
European stocks were flat on Wednesday, however, Spain’s IBEX climbed 1.3%, after Carles Puigdemont, president of the Catalan government, stopped short of formally declaring independence from Spain late on Tuesday.
The FTSE 100 closed the day down 4.46 points, or 0.11%, to 7,533.81 points.
Mondi led the fallers as it shed 7.8% after warning that its full-year results would come in below expectations. The packaging company attributed this to “a weaker US dollar and sharply weaker Turkish Lira” as well as higher wood, energy and chemical costs.
Meanwhile, Whitbread, Smith & Nephew and EasyJet were the day’s winners, rising 3.41%, 3.09% and 2.87% respectively.
On the currency markets, the pound was flat against the dollar at $1.3204 and down 0.32% against the euro at €1.1146
Booker Group, Brown (N.) Group
UK Economic Announcements
(01:00) RICS House Market Survey
International Economic Announcements
(11:00) Industrial Production (EU)
(13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)
(14:30) Producer Price Index (US)
(16:00) Crude Oil Inventories (US)
COLUMNS OF NOTE
Writing in The Telegraph, Sir Christopher Meyer recalls how he banned the use of the term “the special relationship” in the British embassy in Washington when he served as UK ambassador to the US between 1997 and 2003. He argues that it “encourages prime ministers to behave like poodles” and asserts that it will, and always has been, “America First” and that there is no room for sentimentality in trade negotiations.
In The Guardian, French actress Léa Seydoux recounts her experience with Harvey Weinstein. She also states that he is not the only producer or director to have sexually harassed her, suggesting there may be a deeper problem in Hollywood.
DID YOU KNOW?
The owls used during the Harry Potter films did not actually carry packages and letters in their talons. Props were tied to a light plastic harness that was placed over the bird’s body. The harness had a release mechanism on it, attached to a long invisible cord that was held out of sight by a trainer. When the owl was required to drop its item as it flew toward its mark, the trainer would trigger the mechanism to open and the delivery would be made. Because larger owls can prey on smaller ones, any scenes with multiple live owls would be filmed with only one or a few and then composited together.
House of Commons
International Trade (including Topical Questions
Women and Equalities (including Topical Questions)
Business Statement – Business questions to the Leader of the House
General Debate – Exiting the European Union and data protection
House of Lords
Government reporting to Parliament on a financial settlement with the EU - Lord Spicer
Progress of the competition to design a Small Modular Reactor for the UK - Viscount Hanworth
Creating extra capacity on the railways - Lord Berkeley
Care Quality Commission annual state of care report - Lord Hunt of Kings Heath
The availability and affordability of housing - Lord Smith of Leigh
Effect of globalisation, technology and demographic change on the future of work, and the public policy response to change - Lord Knight of Weymouth
In recess until 23rd October
House of Commons
No business scheduled
House of Lords
No business scheduled