14 November

@Lyle_h_hill

14 November

Good morning,

Foreign policy dominates this morning's headlines, and for once it isn't all about Brexit. Instead, Prime Minister Theresa May has launched a scathing attack on Vladimir Putin and the Russian government.

Addressing the Lord Mayor's Banquet in the City of London, the prime minister reeled off the charges against the Russian state. She cited the dissemination of fake news, the illegal annexation of Crimea and the corruption at the heart of the Russian government as clear examples of Putin's disregard for "the West and our democracies".

The accusations of election meddling and cyber-espionage have so far dominated news headlines in the US rather than the UK, but May argued she felt compelled to speak out following the mounting evidence of Russian interference in the institutions of Western democracies.

May's comments last night are in stark contrast to those of Donald Trump only a week ago. While May is looking to attack Russian actions, Trump is trying to play down their influence. The president drew the irk of his opponents last week for saying he "believed" Putin when he assured him no Russian interference had taken place in the US election.

The prime minister's comments drew support from across the party spectrum last night, with John Woodcock of Labour and Stewart McDonald of the SNP tweeting their support. However, some, such as Labour's Ben Bradshaw, asked why she was acknowledging interference now after stonewalling the issue for months.

Whether the prime minister is trying to divert attention away from her internal problems is another matter. Whilst attacking Putin and Russia at such a high profile event is commendable to many, it may have been borne out of necessity.

Brexit was only mentioned very briefly and by changing the foreign policy debate she may be hoping to take some heat off her foreign secretary, who is still under-fire for his handing of the Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe issue. Johnson is due to visit Russia in December.

NEWS

Scrutiny of the EU Withdrawal Bill begins today. Hundreds of amendments to the bill have been tabled from across the House, including from the Government itself. Yesterday, David Davis announced that MPs would be allowed to vote on the final negotiated deal in Parliament, but that Britain would be leaving the EU regardless of the vote's result.

Westminster has set a budget for the devolved assembly in Northern Ireland following a deadlock in talks. The power sharing agreement in Northern Ireland collapsed in January, and while the government has stressed that setting the £10.6bn budget in Westminster is not the return of direct rule, it is certainly viewed as a set-back to the Good Friday Agreement.

The British Medical Association has found that one in five European doctors have made plans to quit working in the UK, leading to fears of a potential brain drain of NHS staff. The news has prompted fears that the staffing crisis in the service is only set to worsen over the coming months and years.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

A report by PwC has warned that the sharp decline in migration from the EU following Brexit could harm Britain's GDP by as much as 1.1% by 2030. However, the report also cited that there could be some benefits to lower migration, including reduced pressure on transport, housing and public services.

According to the rating agency Standard and Poor, Venezuela has officially defaulted on its sovereign debt. The turmoil-stricken country failed to pay $200 million in payments for global bonds due in 2019 and 2024. S&P downgraded Venezuela's long-term foreign currency sovereign credit rating to selective default.

Rio Tinto looks set to appoint Sir Mick Davis as its new chairman. The Conservative Party chief executive and former head of Xstrata is believed to be leading the race to win the job at the FTSE 100 mining group following a string of scandals. At Xstrata, Davis led the £20 billion merger with Glencore.

MARKETS

What happened yesterday?
The FTSE100 ended down 17.81 points at 7,415.18 yesterday. Royal Dutch Shell rose 0.81% after announcing that it had sold its 72 million share holding in Woodside Petroleum for $2.8bn.

Losers included Babcock International, BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce after they were caught in the downward trajectory of FTSE 250 defence contractor Ultra Electronics. The company warned of difficult market conditions in the second half of the year and that its chief executive had resigned with immediate effect. The announcement sent Ultra's shares tumbling more than 20%.

On the currency markets, the pound had an extremely weak day due to political uncertainty. A fresh rumour, reported in The Sunday Times, that Theresa May faced a vote of no-confidence from up to 40 of her Conservative colleagues sent the pound spiralling. 

Sterling fell 0.64% against the dollar to $1.3105 and also retreated by 0.62% against the euro to €1.1238.

Finals
McCarthy & Stone

 

Trading Announcements
BBA Aviation
Bovis Homes Group
ITV
Polypipe Group
UBM

Interims
BTG, DCC, FirstGroup, Oxford Instruments, Renold, Speedy Hire, Trifast, Vodafone Group

 

AGMs
Abcam
Smiths Group

UK Economic Announcements
(09:30) Consumer Price Index
(09:30) Producer Price Index
(09:30) Retail Price Index

Int. Economic Announcements
(07:00) Consumer Price Index (GER)
(10:00) Industrial Production (EU)
(13:30) Producer Price Index (US)

COLUMNS OF NOTE

The Financial Times Long Read examines Philip Hammond's upcoming Budget and the pressure on the Chancellor to go 'big and bold' whilst not upsetting his colleagues.

Former foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, writing in the Guardian, argues that serious diplomatic errors have been made by the foreign secretary Boris Johnson, but that it is possible to solve the Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe incident through diplomatic means.

DID YOU KNOW?

Vladimir Putin won the last Russian election in 2012 with 63.6% of the vote. His closest rival won 17.2%. The election was widely criticised as rigged.

PARLIAMENTARY HIGHLIGHTS

TODAY
          
House of Commons
Oral questions
Health (including Topical Questions)
 
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Hospital Car Parking Charges (Abolition) - Robert Halfon
 
Legislation
European Union (Withdrawal) Bill - Committee stage (day 1) - Committee of the whole House - Mr David Davis
 
Adjournment
Research and development for the treatment of Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma - Ian Murray
 
House of Lords
 
Oral Questions
Planning for another generation of New Towns - Lord Naseby
 
UK's foreign policy supporting the needs of UK businesses to create and engage with global trade opportunities - Viscount Waverley
 
Effect of Brexit on UK food prices over the next five years. - Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer
 
Legislation
Space Industry Bill [HL] - Report stage - Lord Callanan
 
Scottish Parliament
 
Topical Questions (if selected)
 
Ministerial Statement
Preventing Sexual Offending Involving Children and Young People
 
Scottish Government Debate
Debate
 
Members’ Business
World COPD Day – Emma Harper

 
TOMORROW

House of Commons
Oral questions
Northern Ireland

Prime Minister's Question Time

Legislation

European Union (Withdrawal) Bill - Committee stage (day 2) - Committee of the whole House - Mr David Davis

House of Lords
Oral questions
Opportunities from the fourth industrial revolution, particularly in terms of digital skills, AI, machine learning and distributed ledger technology - Lord Holmes of Richmond

The expected report of the English Churches and Cathedrals Sustainability Review, which was announced in 2016 - Lord Beith

Debate
Report from the Economic Affairs Committee 'The Draft Finance Bill' - Lord Turnbull

Scottish Parliament
Portfolio questions
Culture, Tourism and External Affairs

Ministerial statement
Update on Ministerial Working Group on Building and Fire Safety