Back in May, my colleague David Gaffney wrote about the vital role of journalism in holding power – and organisations – to account, with particular reference to President Trump. A White House press conference yesterday served up another reminder of why this matters.
Trump was asked why there had been no statement from The White House regarding the four US special forces personnel killed during a training mission in Niger. The president responded by saying that he had written letters to the families that would be posted that day – nearly two weeks after the incident occurred – and that he would place calls too.
In his usual style, he proceeded to discard the presser script to explain some of the many ways in which he does things better than his predecessors, even accusing President Obama (and other former occupants of the White House) of not making calls to the families of fallen servicemen; an outright, blatant lie.
Trump was immediately challenged on this point by NBC's Peter Alexander and forced to backtrack, saying: “I don’t know if he [Obama] did. I was told that he didn’t often”. This pattern of outrageous claim-challenge-unapologetic backtrack is becoming scarily familiar.
You might remember that back in February, Trump claimed that his ballot victory in November was the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan. Again, a lie. It was the very same Peter Alexander who put Trump on the spot then.
The media has been much maligned by the Trump administration as part of a concerted strategy to undermine criticism of him.
But Trump, as with all those in power, needs to be held to account and one can’t help but feel that the more he derides and diminishes the media, the more dogged and determined those who report on his presidency will become.
Theresa May and her Brexit Secretary David Davis dined with Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, and EU Commission President Jean Claude Juncker in Brussels last night in a bid to progress negotiations. A joint statement from May and Juncker said there was agreement that “efforts should accelerate over the months to come”, however, there was no mention or detail regarding any kind of breakthrough. One EU source said that while there is an "appetite" to move on with negotiations "there is just nothing to eat".
The US has sought to defuse a looming crisis in Iraq after government forces seized the city of Kirkuk from Kurdish fighters. Both sides are armed and supported by the US in the fight against IS, however, Baghdad’s move came three weeks after a referendum on Kurdish independence included the diverse oil city – viewed as an annexation by the Iraqi government. The scale of clashes between the two sides was played down; Kurdish forces were reported to have retreated, with reports of casualties described as an isolated incident. There are also concerns regarding the possible role played by Iran in coordinating the Iraqi government offensive.
Two leaders of Catalonia’s independence movement have been remanded by a Spanish judge. Jordi Sánchez, head of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), and Jordi Cuixart, leader of Omnium Cultural, were denied bail whilst they are under investigation for sedition. The two men are accused of inciting demonstrations and helping to organise the referendum - viewed as illegal by the Spanish government. The head of Catalonia’s police force, Josep Lluis Trapero was freed. This comes as Madrid has gave Catalan leaders until Thursday to back down from the suspended declaration of independence or face direct rule. Yesterday, Carles Puigdemont refused to clarify whether he declared independence from Spain last week, missing the deadline set down by the central government.
The committee tasked with cutting membership of the House of Lords will announce plans to place 15-year time limits on new peerages later this month. The upper house, which has 800 members – the second largest legislative chamber in the world after the National People’s Congress of China, and one of only two to reserve places for religious clerics – currently has no retirement age or limit on the length of time peers can serve. It is understood the amendments could be implemented through changes to standing orders, without the need for primary legislation.
BUSINESS AND ECONOMY
Airbus is to buy a 50% stake in Bombardier’s C-series programme just weeks after Bombardier was served a 300% import levy by the US Department of Commerce. This followed an allegation from Boeing that subsidies provided by the Canadian and UK governments amounted to state aid and allowed Bombardier to sell its C-series plane at “absurdly low prices”. Airbus will not pay any cash for the stake but will provide procurement, sales and marketing, and customer support expertise. It is not yet known how this latest development will affect the 4,000 people that Bombardier employs in Northern Ireland over the long term, but it would appear to be a positive development in the short term, at least.
The Office of National Statistics will announce official inflation figures this morning. Inflation is forecast to hit three per cent in the month of September, the highest growth since April 2012, and outstripping wage growth figures. This has prompted speculation that interest rates will be increased at the next meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee. If the Bank of England misses its two per cent inflation target by more than one per cent, the governor, Mark Carney, is required to write a letter of explanation to the chancellor of the exchequer. Carney will appear before the Treasury Select Committee later today.
An activist campaign to break up Credit Suisse is set to be unveiled this week. According to sources cited in the Financial Times, RBR Capital Advisors, supported by Gaël de Boissard, a former Credit Suisse investment bank co-head, is looking to tap into investor impatience with the turnaround under the leadership of Tidjane Thiam. Although Credit Suisse has performed well this year, its share price has been diluted by capital raisings and is barely half what it was when Thiam took up the role of chief executive in 2015.
Mike Ashley has put Newcastle United FC up for sale. The controversial Sports Direct owner, who bought the Magpies 10 years ago, has faced protests from fans unhappy at the level of investment in the team. In a statement, St James Holdings said the decision was made in order to “give the club the best possible opportunity of securing the positioning and investment necessary to take it to the next level”. The aim is to have a new owner in place by Christmas, ahead of the January player transfer window.
What happened yesterday?
The FTSE 100 ended the day down 0.11% at 7,526.97. Mining companies bucked the trend, with Glencore and BHP Billiton climbing 1.54% and 1.43% respectively.
However, medical products and technology company Convatec plummeted 26.6% after cutting its revenue growth forecast.
GKN was another faller, dropping 3.43%. This was the second day of losses for the engineering group – it shed a 10% on Friday after posting a profit warning.
Across the pond, US stocks hit another record high. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 85.24 points, or 0.37%, to 22,956.96.
Oil prices jumped 1% as Iraqi government forces seized the city of Kirkuk from Kurdish fighters, briefly cutting 350,000 barrels per day of output at two of the cities largest fields.
On the currency markets, the pound was barely changed against the dollar at $1.328 and rose 0.07% against the euro at €1.1249.
ASOS, Bellway, DotDigital Group, Genedrive, Orchard Funding Group
B.P. Marsh & Partners
Evraz, Mediclinic International, Merlin Entertainments, Moneysupermarket.com Group, Pearson, SEGRO, Virgin Money Holdings (UK)
Revolution Bars Group, SEC S.P.A (CDI)
UK Economic Announcements
(09:30) Consumer Price Index
(09:30) Producer Price Index
(09:30) Retail Price Index
International Economic Announcements
(07:00) Wholesale Price Index (GER)
(10:00) ZEW Survey (GER)
(11:00) Consumer Price Index (EU)
(11:00) ZEW Survey (EU)
(13:30) Import and Export Price Indices (US)
(14:15) Capacity Utilisation (US)
(14:15) Industrial Production (US)
COLUMNS OF NOTE
Rob Wilson, who served as minister for young people between 2014 and 2017, has penned an open letter to the chancellor in The Telegraph ahead of the budget. He outlines four proposals he believes will help the Conservatives reconnect with young people: encouraging entrepreneurship; lower tax bands for under 25s; 40,000 new homes to buy by 2020/21; and a £6,000 a year cap on university fees.
Writing in The Times, Rachel Sylvester supports proposals put forward by Harriet Harman to introduce six months, fully paid maternity and paternity leave for MPs. Under the plan, MPs would be able to nominate a parliamentary colleague as a proxy to vote on their behalf, and hire somebody to stand in for them in their constituency. Sylvester says this is a “long overdue change that brings Westminster into the modern world”.
DID YOU KNOW?
Just four per cent of eligible donors regularly give blood. This is despite the fact that, statistically, one in four of us will need to receive blood at some point in our lives.
House of Commons
Oral questions - Foreign and Commonwealth Office (including Topical Questions)
General debate - The persecution of the Rohingya by the Myanmar Government - subject nominated by the Backbench Business Committee - Rushanara Ali, Mrs Anne Main
Treasury Select Committee - Oral Evidence Session: The work of the Bank of England - Dr Mark Carney, Governor, Bank of England
House of Lords
What assistance have the government given British American Tobacco in its challenge to the claim for unpaid VAT brought by the government of Bangladesh - Baroness Thornton
UK home ownership - Lord Kennedy of Southwark
Definition of Islamophobia - Baroness Warsi
Debate - Report from the Communications Committee 'A privatised future for Channel 4?' - Lord Best
In recess until 23rd October
House of Commons
Oral questions – International Development (including Topical Questions)
Prime Minister’s Question Time
Opposition Day Debate – Pause and fix of roll-out of universal credit
House of Lords
The product recall system and tumble driers - Baroness Neville-Rolfe
Consultation on the introduction of medical examiners and reforms to death certification - Lord Low of Dalston
Creative industries and Brexit - Baroness Quin
Legislation - Space Industry Bill [HL] - Committee stage (day 2) - Committee of the Whole House - Lord Callanan