15 January 2019

Katie Stanton

15 January 2019

Good morning,

While Theresa May has been haplessly “kicking the can down the road” for a couple of years, the rest of us Brits have been developing a new-found respect for the ol’ can of beans.

As Brexit looms closer, so too, they tell us, does the threat of chaos at our ports, gridlock on our roads and desolate supermarket shelves. The addition of customs checks lasting just 80 seconds each would result in six-day queues at Dover according to the Financial Times.

Consequently, bean loving Brits across the country have started to gather “essentials” and canned food cooking is set to be the latest craze. From toilet roll to sardines, Super Noodles to stout, we’re ready to barricade the doors at any moment, safe in the knowledge we can dine on a banquet of spaghetti hoops and UHT milk until at least 2025.

The government has guaranteed “people don’t need to stockpile food, water filters or fire starters”, adding that the rush on beans might actually make the situation worse. Still, shoppers continue to bag key items: a Brexit survival kit, including enough freeze-dried sustenance to last 30 days, could be yours for just £300 – what’s not to love?

One thing’s for certain: the prime minister certainly has more than enough on her plate. After a full schedule of grovelling to MPs and business leaders, Theresa May is now braced for defeat in the meaningful vote on her Brexit deal this evening.

She warned Tory MPs yesterday that a vote against the deal would be a vote for Jeremy Corbyn, who is expected to submit a no-confidence vote if she is defeated. Though the prime minister would be expected to win the vote with the help of the DUP, it is then up to her to assess whether it is worth wasting more valuable time with a second vote on her deal.   

Regardless of the result, this evening will hopefully see an end to the Brexit deadlock and provide a dash more clarity. Until then, it’s back to fighting over that last can of peaches. 

News

A Canadian man has been sentenced to death for drug smuggling in China. Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was originally given a 15-year jail term for the offence, but this sentence was later ruled too lenient. He denies the accusations, claiming instead that he was a tourist. The decision comes shortly after Canada arrested a top official at the Chinese telecoms provider Huawei, which ignited a diplomatic row between the nations.

A British-Iranian woman being held in jail in Tehran has come under pressure to spy for the regime in return for her freedom. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in 2016 and accused of espionage while on a trip to visit her mother. She denies the accusations. Yesterday, she began a three-day hunger strike to protest the authorities’ denial of medical treatment, which may continue beyond tomorrow if her demands are not met. (£)

Donald Trump was forced to provide a feast of McDonald’s burgers, chips and pizza for American football champions at the White House yesterday, as chefs were absent due to the government shutdown.

A US federal judge has blocked new Trump administration regulations on birth control from applying nationwide. The rules give employers the opportunity to deny women birth control based on their “religious beliefs” or “moral convictions”.

Business & Economy 

Volkswagen will manufacture pick-up trucks with Ford and is open to building electric vehicles in the future as part of an alliance between the two companies. They are expected to announce the collaboration this morning, as well as intent to work together in the development of self-driving and electric vehicles. (£)

Fears over the strength of the global economy were heightened last night after a leading think tank said that growth was slowing in the richest economies and China reported poor exports. The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development report supports recent warnings and paints a bleak outlook for the world’s biggest economies. (£)

The California utility firm suspected of causing last year’s deadly Camp wildfire plans to file for bankruptcy by the end of the month. Pacific Gas and Electric services more than a third of California and now faces investigation for its role in the fire as well as liabilities of at least $30 billion. 

Markets

What happened yesterday? 

The FTSE 100 closed lower yesterday, after data showing Chinese exports and imports fell in December and a drop in eurozone industrial production dragged markets down. The index closed 0.9% lower.

Yesterday’s losers included bookmakers Paddy Power Betfair, which fell 4.1% to £62.60 after Barclays downgraded its stock from “overweight” to “equal weight”.

Likewise, Wall Street was down after a lacklustre start to the earnings season. The drop was fuelled by rumours of a global economic slowdown, as the China-US trade war rumbles on.

On the currency markets, the pound had a slightly better day, settling up against the dollar at $1.29. It was also up 0.11% against the euro at €1.12.

Finals

Elegant Hotels Group

Watkin Jones

Interims

Games Workshop Group

Knights Group Holdings

AGMs

C4X Discovery Holdings

Manchester & London Investment Trust

Int. Economic Announcements

(10:00) Balance of Trade (EU)

(13:30) Producer Price Index (US)

Columns of Note

Matthew Vincent notes the problem with textbook answers for job interviews: they do not allow for reality. Writing in the Financial Times, he looks at PageGroup plc as an example; a recruitment company that for a long time has had all the right answers. But, circumstances no one could possibly predict – Donald Trump anyone? – have put the firm under pressure and they have begun to fluff their lines. 

China’s obsession with Taiwan is nothing to do with money, according to Cindy Wu. She argues in the Spectator that the obsession with a tiny island of 23 million people is really about identity – it is the final chip on the Chinese shoulder after years of invasion and colonialism brought the country to its knees. Taiwan is a part of the “motherland” and president Xi has vowed that its reunification with China is “inevitable”. 

Did you know?

The Afrikaans word for stapler is “papier vampier” or “paper vampire”. 

Parliamentary highlights  

TODAY

House of Commons
Oral questions
Health and Social Care (including Topical Questions)
 
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Public Sector Supply Chains (Project Bank Accounts) - Debbie Abrahams
 
Debate
Section 13(1)b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 - conclusion
 
Adjournment
Rail services at Chester-le-street station - Mr Kevan Jones

House of Lords
Oral questions
Prevalence of gambling among children and young people - The Lord Bishop of St Albans
 
Reducing dental decay and gum disease in children - Lord Storey
 
Extending the reminder for breast cancer checks to women over 73 years old - Baroness Bakewell
 
Current situation in Susan - Baroness Cox
 
Legislation
Voyeurism (Offences) (No. 2) Bill - Third reading - Lord Keen of Elie
 
Tenant Fees Bill - Third reading - Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth
 
Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill - Third reading - Baroness Williams of Trafford
 
Orders and regulations
Draft Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes (Amendment etc.) (EU
Exit) Regulations 2018; Draft Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes (Amendment etc.) (Northern Ireland) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018 – motion to approve - Baroness Buscombe
 
Services of Lawyers and Lawyer’s Practice (Revocation etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 - Lord Keen of Elie
 
Civil Legal Aid (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 - Lord Keen of Elie
 
Takeovers (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019; Insolvency (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018 - Lord Henley
 
Consumer Protection (Enforcement) (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018 - Lord Henley
 
Scottish Parliament
Topical Questions (if selected)
 
Scottish Government Debate
Securing a just transition to a carbon-neutral economy
 
Members’ Business
Paisley Voted Britain’s Top Town – George Adam

TOMORROW

House of Commons

Oral questions

Scotland

Prime Minister’s Question Time 

Ten Minute Rule Motion

Low-Level Letter Boxes (Prohibition) – Vicky Ford

Legislation

Immigration and Social Security Co-Ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill – 2nd reading

Adjournment

Car production in Solihull – Julian Knight

House of Lords

Oral questions

Public support for remaining in the European Union – Lord Dykes

Increase in development rights following the government’s consultation: “Planning reform: Supporting the high street and increasing the delivery of new homes.” – Baroness Thornhill

Ban on gambling advertising to counter negative effects on younger and vulnerable people – Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate

Debate

Report from the Economic Affairs Committee, “Treating Students Fairly: The Economics of Post-School Education” – Lord Forsyth of Drumlean

Report from the EU Committee “Brexit: the proposed UK-EY security treaty” – Lord Jay of Ewelme

Report from the EU Committee “Brexit: will consumers be protected?” – Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws

Scottish Parliament 

Ministerial Statement

Protecting Scotland’s Interests: Response to the outcome of the meaningful vote in Westminster

Portfolio Questions

Environment, Climate Change, Land Reform

Rural Economy

Scottish Labour Party Debate

Scotland’s Future

Healthcare (International Arrangements) Bill – UK Legislation