15 January


15 January

Good morning,

A week on from a ministerial reshuffle that many believed failed to deliver the wholesale reform that was promised, Theresa May will have been thankful to stem the growing criticism of her authority and enjoy a weekend away from the newspaper front pages.
The prime minister will now be looking ahead to Thursday when she meets with Emmanuel Macron at Sandhurst.
With Donald Trump deciding against a visit to the UK, Macron will view the trip as the perfect opportunity to showcase his credentials as the champion of the free world. French media outlet Le Monde report that he feels his growing international prominence gives him the upper hand on struggling May and will aim to exploit this to press for the prime minister to agree to take more migrants currently stuck in Calais, as well as inject more money into funding improved border security.
Other issues on the wide-ranging agenda at the military training academy include terrorism, the crackdown on “fake news”, and of course, defence. In anticipation of the meeting, Lord Ricketts, a former UK national security adviser and former ambassador to France, has this morning sounded a stark warning that Brexit could threaten the Anglo-French relationship, an outcome that would put defence and security cooperation at risk.
The prime minister is also under pressure to use her time with one of Europe’s most influential leaders to set out her demands for the kind of Brexit she wishes to see established. However, given the reports that the cabinet has yet to discuss Brexit since the new year, this might be easier said than done. Macron, on the other hand, will seek to ask the UK to join a new European defence initiative, aimed at ever-closer integration of Europe’s armed forces, an invite that will remain in place even after the UK leaves the EU.
Despite having yet to officially start the next phase of negotiations on the UK’s exit from the EU, Thursday is shaping up to be potentially one of the more pivotal days on the path to Brexit.


Construction giant Carillion has filed for liquidation, putting thousands of jobs at risk. The move comes after rescue talks between the firm, its lenders and the government failed to reach a deal over the weekend. However, the government will provide funding to maintain the public services run by Britain’s second biggest construction company.
At least 35 people have died and 90 wounded in a double suicide bombing in central Baghdad, the Iraqi interior ministry said. Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Saad Maan said the death toll could rise as more bodies were being recovered from the site after the rush-hour attack at the city’s Tayran Square.

Chelsea Manning, the transgender former army private who spent seven years in military prison for carrying out one of the largest leaks in US history, has confirmed her intention to run in this year's Democratic primaries for a Maryland Senate seat.

Business & Economy

Greece will accept to adopt more austerity measures today, clearing the last significant barrier to receiving €5 billion in aid from its eurozone partners. Since its economy crashed in 2010, Athens has relied on three multibillion-euro lifelines since 2010 and have set a timetable that they hope will allow them to end its bailout programme in August. (£)

Scotland's economy could be £12.7bn a year worse off under a so-called hard Brexit, according to new analysis by the Scottish Government. Titled Scotland's Place in Europe: People, Jobs and Investment, the paper looks at the impact of UK withdrawal from the European Union and will be published later today.
Chilean officials have accused the World Bank of treating the country unfairly for several years, with the foreign minister Heraldo Muñoz tweeting that "fake news was becoming fake statistics". The World Bank has ordered an inquiry after its chief economist, Paul Romer, said indicators for Chile may have been manipulated for political reasons to show a decline in Chile's business conditions.


The week ahead
On Tuesday, Canada and the US will host a crisis summit of foreign ministers, including from countries such as Britain, France, and South Korea, as they aim to escalate the pressure on North Korea to negotiate an end to its nuclear programme. China will not have a delegate in attendance as they say the absence of key countries stifles the prospect of any meaningful progress being made.
Staying across the Atlantic, the US’s biggest banks reveal their fourth-quarter results over the week. Following JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo last week, we will find out results from Citigroup on Tuesday, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America on Wednesday and Morgan Stanley on Thursday. The recent reforms to tax law is likely to make the accounts a messy affair, characterised by a multitude of one-off charges, accelerated expenses and one-time bonuses to staff. On these shores, Wednesday will see the Office for National Statistics publishe its monthly Consumer Price Indices for December 2017, before publishing UK retail sales data for December 2017.
Finally, Republicans and Democrats need to reach an agreement over US government funding by Friday to avoid a government shutdown. Such a situation was averted shortly before Christmas by extending the deadline for a few weeks, but a further extension is considered unlikely.

Watkin Jones

PCG Entertainment (DI)

Columns of note

Ahead of the SNP government today publishing a report analysing the impact of different Brexit options on the Scottish economy, Kevin Pringle writes in The Sunday Times that the party has an opportunity to lead pro-European opinion across the UK, which could involve “calling for a fresh referendum on the reality of Brexit”. (£)
Writing in the Financial Times, Wolfgang Münchau argues that the preliminary agreement struck by Germany’s two main parties for a grand coalition will radically reshape EU politics. He says the deal would result in the biggest drive towards continental integration for more than a quarter of a century. (£)

Did you know?

During the American Revolution, in cities such as New York that were controlled by the British Army, some soldiers took time to act in professionally produced plays.

Parliamentary highlights


House of Commons

Oral questions
Defence - including Topical Questions
House of Lords
Oral questions
Implementing paper-free customs procedures for just-in-time freight between the EU and the UK after Brexit -  Lord Berkeley
Scottish Parliament
Finance and Constitution Committee: Draft Budget 2018-19

Education and Skills Committee: Education reforms


House of Commons

Oral questions
HM Treasury - including Topical Questions

European Union (Withdrawal) Bill - remaining stages (Day 1)

House of Lords
Oral questions
Encouraging women to stand for political and public office -  Baroness Gale

Effect on women in the workplace of the UK leaving the EU -  Baroness Crawley

Scottish Parliament
Stage 1 Debate: Civil Litigation (Expenses and Group Proceedings) (Scotland) Bill

Scottish Government Debate: Scotland’s International Policy Framework and Priorities for 2018