16 June

Ania Lewandowska

16 June

Good morning,

Mohammed Alhaj Ali​, a civil engineering student at the University of West London, was on the 14th floor of the Grenfell Tower with his brother Omar when the fire broke out. Omar made it to safety. Mohammed, a 23-year-old Syrian refugee, who had survived a bombing campaign by ISIS as well as the dangerous passage across the Mediterranean Sea, is the first victim to be identified.

The official death toll following the devastating Grenfell Tower fire in west London stands at 17 but is expected to rise sharply. The emergency services now estimate that more than a hundred people will be declared dead and the search for remaining victims could take weeks – senior officers conceded the true scale of the disaster may never be known.

The growing number of questions over the fire safety failings has seen grief and disbelief turn to anger.

The Prime Minister - who faced criticism for not meeting survivors of the tragedy on a private visit to the scene yesterday - has announced a full public inquiry into the disaster and Scotland Yard launched a criminal investigation.

Despite the tragedy in London and post-election chaos, negotiations to agree Britain's withdrawal from the European Union are to officially begin on Monday, amid reported splits in the Conservative Party over just how to approach the Brexit talks.

The EU’s timetable is oblivious to the election result. A negotiating mandate has been given by the other 27 countries to Michel Barnier at the European Commission, who will sit down with Brexit Secretary David Davis in Brussels next week to present the EU’s opening negotiating position.

News

The State Opening of Parliament and Queen's Speech will take place next Wednesday, Commons leader Andrea Leadsom has announced. Negotiations between the Conservative Party and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) are ongoing and it has been reported the Government is seeking a 'confidence and supply' arrangement with the DUP.

Two British soldiers have died and two others are being treated for injuries after an incident involving a tank at a military firing range in Pembrokeshire. Both victims were from the Royal Tank Regiment. Two other people are still being treated for their injuries. A 48-hour worldwide ban was subsequently imposed on the ammunition which had been fired during the fatal training exercise.

US President Donald Trump is expected to announce a new government policy towards Cuba today — backtracking on the policy of greater engagement with the island established by his predecessor, Barack Obama. Trump will impose new limits on commercial transactions that involve the Cuban military. And Americans will no longer be allowed to travel to the island on their own for "people-to-people" purposes, once the new rules are in place.

Business & Economy

Eurozone finance ministers have agreed to release another tranche of loans worth €8.5bn (£7.4bn) for Greece, ending the possibility that the country would default on €7bn in loan repayments due next month. The third tranche of the €86bn bailout will cover current financing needs, arrears clearing, and the possible building up of a cash buffer. The Eurogroup also stated that it is ready to consider the extension of the maturities and further deferral of interest and amortisation on loans to Greece by up to 15 years.

The European Commission may slap Alphabet's Google with a $9 billion fine for breaching EU antitrust rules. The EU competition watchdog accused Google in April 2015 of distorting internet search results to favour its own shopping service at the expense of rival services in a case that has dragged on since late 2010. If found guilty of breaching antitrust rules, companies face fines of up to 10 per cent of their annual sales turnover, which in Google's case would be a maximum possible sanction.

The Bank of England came close to delivering a big shock yesterday, when three members of its Monetary Policy Committee voted to raise interest rates. The 5-3 vote by the Bank's policymakers was the closest for a rate rise since 2007, and comes as inflation sits close to a four-year high of 2.9%.

Markets

What happened yesterday

Sterling surged to its highest in a week against the euro after three members of the Bank of England's policy committee surprised financial markets by voting for a rise in interest rates. The pound rose 0.69% to €1.1448.

That didn't help stocks market, however, with investors already nervous about UK economic growth and company profits.

The internationally focussed FTSE 100, which has tended to rise as the pound falls, closed down 0.74% to 7,419. 3 points.

Next suffered the sharpest fall since its January profit warning and dropped 6.14% to 4,037p, as retailers led the FTSE 100 sharply lower.

DFS shed 21% to 198p as it warned trading had worsened in recent weeks with people starting to feel the pinch of higher inflation and stagnant wages. Marks and Spencer lost 4.7 per cent to 351.8p.

The FTSE 250 fell two per cent to 19,553.6.

Finals
Real Estate Credit Investments Ltd (RECI)
Record Plc (REC)

AGMs
Ergomed plc (ERGO)
Gulf Keystone Petroleum (GKP)
Mariana Resources (MARL)
MayAir Group plc (MAYA)
Pembridge Resources plc (PERE)
Sagicor Financial Corporation Limited (SFI)
Tesco plc (TSCO)
Trading Announcements
Sthree Plc (STHR)
Tesco plc (TSCO)

EGMs
Mariana Resources (MARL)

Int. Economic Announcements
(10:00) Consumer Price Index(EU)
(13:30) Building Permits (US)
(13:30) Housing Starts (US)
(15:00) U. of Michigan Confidence (Prelim) (US)

Columns of Note

Writing in The Financial Times, Philip Stephens analyses Prime Minister Theresa May’s approach to the upcoming Brexit talks. He admits that the newly elected, pro-EU French president could have chosen to humiliate May, when the two leaders met in Paris, instead “wise beyond his years” Macron has given May a choice and another path to follow. The author admits that while ”the EU27 have problems, certainly — think about resurgent authoritarianism in Poland and Hungary — but optimism has replaced pessimism as the prevailing emotion”, no one feels compelled to offer concessions to the UK.

In today’s Guardian a number of commentators discuss the living and safety conditions of Britain’s high-rise flats. Lynsey Hanley, writes that the Grenfell Tower tragedy exposed Britain’s inequality and while “the privileged can buy their safety – high-rise dwellers and the poor are condemned to second-class status”. The inequality, she writes, is especially visible in an inner-London borough as rich as Kensington and Chelsea.

Did you know?

Tetraphobia is the practice of avoiding instances of the number 4. It is a superstition most common in East Asian nations. The Chinese desperately avoid the use of this number. They even skip the 4th floor in some buildings.

Parliamentary highlights

TODAY

House of Commons
No business scheduled.

House of Lords
No business scheduled.

Scottish Parliament
No business scheduled.

MONDAY

House of Commons
No business scheduled.

House of Lords
No business scheduled.

Scottish Parliament
No business scheduled.