With parades taking place in towns and cities across the country and an abundance of rainbow flags – virtual and actual – being flown during the last couple of weeks, you may have noticed that June is ‘Pride’ month, with the movement for LGBTQ liberation more visible than ever in the UK.
This year’s celebration also coincides with a significant landmark: the 50thanniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots, the uprising that was a response to a police raid on The Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York. Stonewall was an event that would accelerate the growing movement for LGBTQ rights, as well as propelling new heroes, like Marsha P. Johnson, into the public eye.
We should acknowledge the many advances that have been made since then, of course. Having been born in 1998, I’ve already lived through some ground-breaking milestone moments, including the abolition of Section 28 and Clause 28, the age of consent being equalised, and the legalisation of same-sex marriage across Scotland, England, Wales, and the Republic of Ireland.
It is also reported this morning that Scotland will pass a law that will make it the first UK country to allow people to define their transgender history under changes to the census.
There is no doubt, however, that despite the undeniable progress we have made, events like Pride remain essential. Just last week, we were confronted by the image of a lesbian couple on a bus in London, covered in blood having been attacked by a group of men for refusing to kiss for their misogynistic and homophobic entertainment. It serves as a stark reminder that we live in a world in which more than two thirds of LGBTQ people have avoided holding hands with a same-sex partner in public.
Days after that attack, transgender activist and model Munroe Bergdorf was dropped by the NSPCC after social media users criticised the charity’s association with her for Childline. The charity issued an apology yesterday, but its mishandling of Bergdorf’s appointment is set against the backdrop of a United Kingdom in which 83% of young trans people have faced verbal abuse and 89% have contemplated suicide.
Remember too that the Brexit Party MEP, Ann Widdecombe, suggested earlier this month that science might “produce an answer” for same-sex attraction, in response to questions about her previous support for conversion therapy. And that gay marriage is still not permitted in Northern Ireland, despite a majority of the country's public supporting its legalisation.
These examples represent just a fraction of the discriminatory behaviour LGBTQ people in the UK continue to face today. In response to the assault in London, transgender journalist and activist Paris Lees tweeted on Friday that she would not be “the only LGBT person looking at this and remembering how it feels to come home looking like this”. It is a sobering reminder of how much more we need to do.
Days after her assault on the London bus, one of the victims, Chris, said: “I am not scared about being visibly queer. If anything, you should do it more.” In doing so, she added her voice to a long history – before, during, and after Stonewall – of LGBTQ defiance and the demand for equality. This is something we must continue to acknowledge, commemorate and fight for, and not only in the month of June.
Labour’s attempt to block a no-deal Brexit was defeated last night in Parliament, with the cross-party effort losing by 11 votes. The motion would have allowed opposition MPs to bring forward legislation with the potential to stop the UK from leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement, as well as giving Labour the opportunity to use parliamentary time later this month to prevent a future prime minister from suspending parliament in the hopes of pushing through a no-deal Brexit.
The Conservative leadership election will advance today as party MPs vote on the first ballot. With all 10 candidates having launched their campaigns and made their initial bids for No.10 over the past week, they will now need to meet the threshold of 17 votes in order to get through to the next round of the contest. It is expected that at least one MP will be excluded from the race by the end of the day.
Football coach Bob Higgins was jailed for 24 years yesterday after he was found guilty of indecently assaulting 24 boys during his time at Southampton FC and Peterborough United. Six other victims had previously also come forward as part of a 1991 court case against the coach. Hampshire Police have apologised for their failure to assist those making allegations of abuse during the 1990s.
Business & Economy
Sir Philip Green’s high-street empire avoided collapse last night, after creditors approved the Arcadia Group’s concessions. The company announced in May that it would be unable to pay its £100 million of fixed charges, with projected earnings for 2019 down to £30 million, against £219 million in 2017. Arcadia had put forward Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVAs), which proposed rent cuts between 25% and 50%.
China’s ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, has told BBC Newsnight that Chinese investors might be unwilling to deal with UK businesses if Huawei’s equipment is not used for the 5G network. The comment comes as the current US-China trade war remains heightened, with the US continuing to pressure other countries to blacklist Huawei due to security concerns.
A BBC Newsnight investigation has revealed that less than 10% of UK firms have signed up for HMRC’s Transitional Simplified Procedures scheme. Launched in February, the scheme is aimed at easing imports in the event of a no-deal Brexit. According to Newsnight figures, only 17,800 firms have applied for the TSP scheme as of May 26.
What happened yesterday?
The ongoing trade dispute between China and the US has continued to influence UK markets as the FTSE 100 opened 14 points lower this morning.
Traders are cautious as President Trump persisted last night in his defence of using tariffs against China to strengthen the US’s balance within the trade relationship. He has stated that the trade war will heighten if Chinese President Xi Jinping fails to show up at the G20 summit later this month.
As a result, the FTSE 100 was down 0.4% by closing on Wednesday.
On Wall Street, The Dow Jones closed 0.17% lower at the end of the day yesterday, while the S&P 500 finished 0.20% lower, and the Nasdaq fell by 0.38%.
European markets similarly fell, also in response to American developments. The European STOXX 600 fell by 0.3%; the German DAX was off by 0.4%; and the French CAC fell by 0.6%. Italy’s FTSE-MIB continued to fall (0.7%) in response to the escalating tensions between Italy and the European Union over the country’s debt and deficit levels.
What is happening today?
John Laing Environmental Assets Group Limited
UK Economic Announcements
RICS Housing Market Survey
International Economic Announcements
Consumer Price Index (GER)
Industrial Production (EU)
Continuing Claims (US)
Import and Export Price Indices (US)
Initial Jobless Claims (US)
Energean Oil & Gas
Good Energy Group
Life Settlement Assets
Middlefield Canadian Income PCC
Morrison (WM) Supermarkets
Predator Oil & Gas Holdings NPV
Standard Life Investments Property Income Trust Ltd.
Taptica International (DI)
Union Jack Oil
Source: FTSE 100, Financial Times
Columns of Note
Yesterday would have been Anne Frank’s 90th birthday and, in The New Statesman, Rachel Holmes discusses Anne Frank: The Collected Works ahead of its publication later this month. The release will mark the first time that original versions of Frank’s diary are available in English, alongside a range of previously unpublished writing including letters, notebooks, and short stories. Holmes illuminates the fascinating history behind the diary’s publication after Anne’s death and explains how the collected editions allow for a fuller portrayal of the diarist herself.
In The Guardian, Larry Elliott looks at last week’s state visit by President Trump from another angle: why does the British monarchy still thrive in 2019? Although Jeremy Corbyn is a republican, even an immediate Labour victory won’t usher in the radical abolition of monarchy. Elliott ponders why our love for the Royals has endured, and how that public relationship with the institution has changed in the 22 years since Princess Diana’s death.
Cartoon source: the Guardian
Did you know?
The longest-lasting rainbow to be recorded occurred in northern Taiwan on 30 November 2017, lasting nine hours. The previous record was a six-hour rainbow in England during March 1994.
House of Commons
Transport (including Topical Questions)
Business Questions to the Leader of the House – Mel Stride
General Debate on Social Housing – Matt Western
General Debate on making Parliament a more modern, family friend and accessible workplace – Ellie Reeves, Ms Harriet Harman, Mrs Maria Miller
Transfer of services from University Hospital in Coventry to Birmingham and Worcester – Mr Jim Cunningham
No business schedules
No business scheduled
No business scheduled
House of Lords
Request by the head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service to introduce compensation for victims of Historical Institutional Abuse – Lord Empey
EU announcements regarding the air travel, haulage, visas and safety certificates should the UK leave the EU without a deal – Lord Lilley
Ensuring unpaid carers receive the support to which they are entitled – Baroness Brinton
Inequalities in income, wealth and living standards in the United Kingdom since the 2008 financial crisis; the Institute for Fiscal Studies Deaton Review; and the report of the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights – Lord Dubs
Impact of the increased use of referenda on the functioning of representative democracy in the UK – Lord Soley
Provision of free public transport and television licences for older persons as a means to alleviate loneliness and isolation and of the case for maintaining well-funded public services to support care for the elderly – Lord Foulkes of Cumnock
No business scheduled
EU External Affairs Sub-Committee – Private Meeting
EU Internal Market Sub-Committee – Private Meeting
First Minister’s Questions
S5M-17329: World Environment Day 2019
To ask the Scottish Government what progress it is making with the Referendums (Scotland) Bill – Bill Bowman
To ask the Scottish Government under what circumstances it would consider using the provisions in the Referendums (Scotland) Bill – Graham Simpson
Disclosure (Scotland) Bill
Stage 1 Debate
Restricted Roads (20mph Speed Limit) (Scotland) Bill
Legislative Consent Motion
Wild Animals in Circuses (No. 2) Bill
House of Commons
No business scheduled
House of Lords
Access to Palliative Care Bill [HL] – Second reading – Baroness Finlay of Llandaff
No business scheduled.