15 November 2018

Katie Stanton

15 November 2018

Good morning,

The government has been forced to reverse its budget pledge to push back the planned cut to maximum stakes on fixed odds betting terminals by six months.

Following rebellion in the House of Commons – a recurring theme for the prime minister, problematically – the reduction of the top wager from £100 to £2 will now come into force in April 2019, as originally planned. Tracey Crouch, the sports minister, had resigned over the delay, adding pressure to government and ultimately forcing the embarrassing U-turn.

And the uphill struggle is set to continue for Theresa May as she looks to the Commons for a decisive vote on her “messy, unloved compromise” of a Brexit deal. She announced the support of her cabinet yesterday, following a “long, detailed and impassioned debate” and hailed the draft withdrawal agreement as a pivotal step towards a successful Brexit.

As it stands, it looks like it’s going to be far from a full house for the prime minister. Opposition parties and the DUP – a key ally of the Tories – have criticised the draft. Arlene Foster, the DUP’s leader, vowed that she wouldn’t “be led by anyone”, Jacob Ress-Mogg called for a coup, and David Davies called the plans “at best, naïve”.

The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg reported that a senior Tory had said that Brexiteer anger is so great that it “seems likely there will be a call for a vote of no confidence” today. And Theresa May could still face resignations from ministers such as Dominic Raab and Penny Morduant, both considered rivals for the top job (the attractions of which are questionable, frankly, given the current work stack).

But Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, urged officials to be more reasonable, stressing the importance of the agreement for securing rights for citizens and providing much needed stability for businesses.

Theresa May’s cards are on the table now but the question remains: will parliament opt for “a botched deal or no deal”? Only time will tell, but one sure bet is that she’s going to need more than just her reluctant cabinet on her side.

News

Kweku Adoboli, a former UBS trader convicted of fraud over an unauthorised trading loss worth $2.3 billion, is being deported from the UK after losing a legal battle with the Home Office. A native of Ghana, Adoboli has lived in the UK since he was 12 and was fighting to stay in Scotland, where he has lived since his release from prison in 2015. He is set to reach Ghana later today.

The NHS “could be short of 350,000 staff by 2030” according to health experts. Staffing shortages have become embedded into the fabric of the health service, forcing patients to wait longer for treatment, reducing the quality of care and preventing the NHS from spending some of its £20.5 billion funding boost. Unless new staff can quickly be recruited and trained, it is said that the service will simply “not have the workers available to meet demand”.

White House Deputy National Security Adviser, Mira Ricardel, has left her post following pressure from US First Lady Melania Trump. It was announced that Ricardel was leaving to “transition to a new role within the administration”, but the first lady had argued earlier this week that she “no longer deserves the honour of serving this White House”. It is reported that the pair clashed over seating arrangements on a flight during a tour of Africa in October. 

Business & Economy 

Britain’s high streets suffered another loss yesterday, as it was announced that Sports Direct would close four further House of Fraser stores, while Debenhams shares dived by 21 per cent as speculation swirled about the company’s future. Sports Direct boss, Mike Ashley, urged landlords to take proactive steps to cut their rent levels to allow shops to stay viable. (£)

MPs have argued that hand car washes should require a licence to operate, in an attempt to prevent “modern slavery in plain sight”. An enquiry by the Environmental Audit Committee has found that more than a quarter of calls to the modern slavery helpline were from car wash workers.

Flybe has called in crisis experts at KPMG as it “attempts to save itself from collapse”. Following yesterday’s announcement that it was putting itself up for sale, fears have mounted over the possibility of insolvency and the company’s auditor PwC warned of “significant doubt” over its future. (£)

Markets

What happened yesterday?

The FTSE 100 closed down 0.3% yesterday, as the prime minister looked to garner support for her draft EU divorce deal. The International Monetary Fund warned that a no-deal Brexit could cost the UK six per cent of GDP – roughly four years of economic growth.

Mining stocks were down 2.7%, as weak retail sales data in China fuelled speculation about a slowdown in their metal demand.

There was a mild rebound in oil prices, following a plunge of more than seven per cent amid fears that increased US supply would coincide with a global economic slowdown. This kept Wall Street in the green yesterday, despite pressure on the tech sector. Brent was up 2.9% at $67.35 a barrel.

Meanwhile, the pound fluctuated throughout the day but settled up 0.3% against the dollar at $1.30. It was also up slightly against the euro at €1.50.

Finals

Redx Pharma

Interims

Dart Group

Great Portland Estates

Intermediate Capital Group

3i Group

Investec

Mediclinic International

Norcos

QinetiQ Group

Royal Mail

Urban Logistics Reit

Q3 Results

EVS Broadcast Equipment SA

Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings

Card Factory

Societatea Nationala De Gaze Naturale Romgaz S. A. GDR (Reg S)

TBC Bank Group

Trading Announcements

Bovis Homes Group

Close Brothers Group

Chemring Group

Safestore Holdings

Tullow Oil

AGMs

Aviation

Close Brothers Group

Genus

GunsyND

Wetherspoon (J.D.)

New Star Investment Trust

PMS African Infrastructure Opportunities

Ricardo

PME African Infrastructure Opportunities

Ricardo

Seeing Machines Ltd.

Swallowfield

EGMs

Greencore Group

GMs

JD Sports Fashion

Wetherspoon (J.D.)

Widecells Group

UK Economic Announcements

(09:30) Retail Sales

Columns of Note 

Melanie McDonagh comments in The Spectator on the prevalence of agnostic, atheist and humanist opinion on television. Discussing a letter written to he Guardian by “assorted unbelievers” (signed by the likes of Sandi Toksvig) which requests a place on Radio 4’s Thought for the Day, McDonagh argues that she’s heard enough. She poses that their unrelenting “rightness” leaves them telling people what to do, rather than treating them with “warmth, understanding and respect”.

According to Theresa May, her draft withdrawal agreement is “in the best interests of the entire United Kingdom”. Philip Collins writes in The Times that this cannot possibly be true. Mrs May wanted to remain in the EU and, according to Collins, knows that this “deal is worse than the one we are relinquishing”. The prime minister now has the impossible job of leaving the nation with something she wholeheartedly knows is a bad deal – but is nevertheless the best she could do. (£)

Did you know?

Until the 19th century, Primrose Hill in London was inhabited by wolves.

Parliamentary highlights

TODAY

House of Commons

Oral questions

International Trade (including Topical Questions)

Women and Equalities (including Topical Questions)

Business Statement
Business Questions to the Leader of the House - Andrea Leadsom

House of Lords

Oral questions

General Practitioner contract negotiations for 2019-20 - Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Impact of work-related stress on productivity - Lord Haskel

Whether police forces have established effective priorities for fighting crime - Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

Ability of police forces in England and Wales to tackle knife and other serious and violent crime in addition to funding provided by the Early Intervention Youth Fund - Lord Bach

Scottish Parliament

General Questions

First Minister's Questions

Scottish Government Debate: Physical Activity, Diet and Healthy Weight 

TOMORROW

House of Commons

No business scheduled.

House of Lords

No business scheduled.

Scottish Parliament 

No business scheduled.