17 July

@AdamDShaw

17 July

Good morning,

Yesterday, rather unsurprisingly, Donald Trump’s lawyer publically insisted that a meeting between the President’s son, Donald Trump Jr., and Russian nationals during last year’s election campaign was not illegal.

This will of course be disputed by Trump’s opponents who point to 52 US Code 30121 which says: “It shall be unlawful for a foreign national, directly or indirectly, to make a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State, or local election”.

 The President fell back on his usual line put out via his usual outlet – saying in a tweet, “my son Don is being scorned by the Fake News Media”.

 The emails in question, which Donald Trump Jr. published himself in an attempt to head off a story by The New York Times last week, is the latest development in a scandal that has dogged the administration since inauguration day. It may yet lose Trump the presidency.

A letter written by President George H.W. Bush has resurfaced and seems apt at this time. Writing to his son and future president George W. Bush in May 1988 ahead of that year’s election, Bush Sr. warned of the microscopic probing, and of new friends who might ask for favours.  He urged his son not to contact any federal agency or department to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

Neither Bush presidency was perfect, but the Trumps could probably do with taking a leaf out of their book. 

 News

The UK is paying hundreds of millions in extra costs for the F-35 Lightening II – the next generation warplane that will fly from the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers – according to an investigation by The Times. Developed by Lockheed Martin, each aircraft is supposed to cost between £77 million and £100 million. However, the Ministry of Defence faces paying more than £150 million a year for “extras” such as software upgrades, spare parts and “cost reduction initiatives”. The aircraft also faces numerous setbacks with a number of operational issues highlighted.

In the latest round of Cabinet infighting, an unnamed minister has told The Telegraph that Philip Hammond is working to “frustrate Brexit” and treats pro-Leave ministers like “pirates who have taken him prisoner”. The Chancellor was forced to defend himself over the weekend after he was quoted as saying during a Cabinet meeting that “public sector workers are overpaid” and trains are so easy to drive these days “even a woman can do it”.

This comes as David Davis flies out to Brussels for a second round of formal talks with EU negotiators.

South Korea has proposed holding military talks with North Korea following weeks of high tension on the Korean Peninsula. This follows the North’s long-range missile test two weeks ago and would be the first high level talks between the two states since 2015. Moon Jae-in, South Korea’s new President, has said that he wants closer engagement with the Pyongyang.

Business & Economy

Easyjet chief executive Carolyn McCall has been appointed to the top job at ITV. She will succeed Adam Crozier as head of the UK’s largest commercial broadcaster following seven years at the helm of the budget airline. As a former chief executive of Guardian Media Group, Dame Carolyn has experience of running a major media business, as well as an international FTSE 100 company.

HS2 takes another step forward today as major construction contracts are awarded and the route north of Birmingham is confirmed. The contracts for the first phase between London and Birmingham are worth £6.6 billion and will support 16,000 jobs. In addition, the exact route in the Y-shaped network towards Manchester and Leeds will be revealed.

Business confidence is down and the UK needs to brace itself for weaker economic performance, according to two forecasting groups. Fragile sentiment due to concerns over Brexit, domestic political uncertainty and squeezed consumer budgets has led to business confidence falling to its lowest level in six years according to IHS Markit. Meanwhile, the EY Item Club has said that the UK’s economic growth will be weaker this year due to Brexit-related consumer-spending freeze and low earnings growth.

Markets

Finals

Conviviality

Trading announcements

City of London Investment Group, Petropavlovsk, Rio Tinto

EGMs

RM2 International S.A. (DI)

GMs

Oneview Group

AGMs

DP Aircraft I Limited Pref, HILC Infrastructure Company Ltd, JP Morgan European Investment Trust Growth Shares, JP Morgan European Investment Trust, Montanaro UK Smaller Companies Investment Trust

International Economic Announcements

(10:00) Consumer Price Index (EU)

Columns of Note

In his column for The Sunday Times, Kevin Pringle bemoans the UK Government’s “amateurish” handling of Brexit negotiations and says that there should be a referendum on the final deal since the Leave vote took place on the basis of no information regarding what Brexit actually meant

Writing in The Guardian, Simon Jenkins argues that MPs should use the much needed refurbishment of the Palace of Westminster as an opportunity to relocate Parliament outside London for five years. This would reduce the cost of the work as contractors would not have to work around parliamentary business, whilst boosting the regions and allowing MPs to connect with those outside the capital. 

Did you know?

Game of Thrones, the hit HBO series which returns to our screens this evening, is the most pirated show in the world. In 2012, BitTorrent trackers showed that one episode was illegally downloaded 4,280,000 times and, in 2015, new studies suggests that piracy of the show ahead of season five had increased 45% worldwide.

Parliamentary highlights

TODAY

House of Commons

Oral questions

Communities and Local Government (including Topical Questions)

Emergency Debate

 Scheduling of Parliamentary Business by the Leader of the HouseGeneral debate

The abuse and intimidation of candidates and the public during the General Election campaign. - Mrs Theresa May

House of Lords

Oral questions

Lifting the ban on fox hunting - Baroness Jones of Whitchurch

Report from the European Union Committee 'Brexit: UK–EU movement of people' - Baroness Prashar

Debate

Report from the Economic Affairs Committee 'The Price of Power: Reforming the Electricity Market' - Lord Hollick

 Scottish Parliament

 In recess until 3rd September

TOMORROW

House of Commons

Oral questions

Treasury (including Topical Questions

General debate 

Drugs policy

House of Lords

Oral questions

Promoting trading relationships with Southern African countries - Lord St John of Bletso

Debate

 Report from the European Union Committee 'Brexit: trade in goods' - Baroness Verma