18 April 2019

Katie Stanton

18 April 2019

Good morning,

Hooray, we made it! The Easter bank holiday will soon be upon us and the weather is fabulous, what are the chances? In just a few hours we can all collectively scuttle off to a long weekend in the sunshine.

That is if you can make it home, of course.

For it seems that a cohort of eco warriors is inflicting moderate disruption on transport networks across the UK (in part through the medium of dance, apparently).

Activist group Extinction Rebellion has been taking advantage of the long temperate days and blue skies this week to camp out at key transport links in an effort to prompt action on climate change.

Through “non-violent direct action and civil disobedience” they aim to rouse policymakers into saving the planet from ecological collapse.

This is naturally code for supergluing oneself to the DLR. Or to each other. Or to Jeremy Corbyn’s gate.

The sites in London are less anarchic, passionate mutiny; more bombastic festival, complete with makeshift eateries, skateparks, live music, a pink party boat and some rather large, weird plant pots – because, you know, let’s remember the cause.

Sounds great for a weekend. Maybe not for a Thursday.

So other than considerably upping my step count by diverting my bus and stirring a mutual groan of jaded distaste amongst commuters across the country, what impact are the demonstrations having?

Well, London’s mayor Sadiq Khan certainly noticed. Despite sharing in “the passion of all those protesting”, he condemned the protests for risking Londoners safety and the ability of emergency service crews to do their jobs.

But all is not lost; Extinction Rebellion picked a good week for their demonstration.

Because just in the nick of time – just as everyone was getting a bit fed up with it all –  the nation’s sweetheart returns to our screens to further highlight the damage that we’re all doing.

Tonight, David Attenborough will take an urgent look at the science of climate change on BBC One at 9pm. Together with the help of scientists, the “horror” film will reveal what is likely to happen if global warming exceeds 1.5 degrees and if major reductions are not made in the next decade.

But while there is no question in my mind that the ecological fight is a good and necessary one, targeting tube trains and shutting down public transport is a bit misguided. Considering that they’re not exactly the worst offenders on the polluter shame list, it might be more apt to glue oneself to other modes of transport.

And that’s not to mention the wider impacts of the disruption: the elderly woman whose bus was cancelled, forcing her either to finish her journey on foot or hail a cab; the droves of idling cars stuck in jams, positively gushing carbon dioxide in a combined f-you to the atmosphere; the cost to businesses of diminished footfall and to the taxpayer of heightened police presence. It seems counterproductive.

Yes, the cause is important and urgent. And yes, demonstrations cause a bit of a  stir. But if Extinction Rebellion want to provoke more than a passing tut from commuters (who mostly agree, by the way), then they may have to rethink their festival… I mean protest. It’s definitely a protest.   

News

At least 29 people have died after a bus carrying German tourists plunged off a road and overturned on the Portuguese island of Madeira. Another 27 people were injured in the accident near the town of Caniço.

Mya-Lecia Naylor, who appeared in CBBC shows Millie Inbetween and Almost Never, has died suddenly at the age of 16. CBBC said she was a “much-loved part of the BBC Children’s family and a hugely talented actress, singer and dancer”. The cause of her death is unknown.

According to two opinion polls, Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party has surged into the lead for the European elections. Having formed only in January, the party has overtaken Labour and the Tories and eaten into Ukip’s support. A YouGov poll for The Times puts the new party on 23%, ahead of Labour’s 22% and the Conservatives’ 17%. (£)

Business & Economy 

London’s Crossrail “could be delayed until 2021”, according to a senior source associated with the project. The new railway, officially called the Elizabeth Line, will run between Reading and Shenfield in Essex and had been due to open in December 2018. But, while Crossrail said that testing was “progressing well”, sources told the BBC that this phase – known as dynamic testing – was “proving more difficult than first thought.”

The UK’s competition watchdog is calling for rapid legislation to end the dominance of the big four accounting firms and address the problem of conflicts of interest in the audit sector. The Competition and Markets Authority stopped short of demanding a full break-up of the KPMG, EY, PwC and Deloitte but recommended that they split their operations by separating their audit businesses from their consultancy arms. (£)

Online image board Pinterest Inc and Zoom Video Communications are expected to start trading on the New York Stock Exchange today. Pinterest raised $1.43 billion in its IPO after initially pricing the offering at $19 a share on Wednesday, valuing the company at $10 billion. 

Markets

What happened yesterday? 

The FTSE 100 edged higher yesterday, up 0.02%. TUI was the big winner of the day, rising 4.18% as it remains upbeat despite recently issuing a profit warning over the weak pound.

Across the pond, Wall Street was mixed as healthcare stocks came under fire, damaging positive sentiment following largely positive earnings news in the US and robust economic data from China. It was the second day of trouble for the sector, having declined two per cent in the previous session.

UnitedHealth’s chief executive said on Tuesday that proposals such as “Medicare for all” could destabilise the system, adding to the “inherent cost burden” that companies are facing.

Earnings news was mixed: updates from PepsiCo and Morgan Stanley beat forecasts, while IBM and Bank of New York Mellon underwhelmed.

Wall Street’s S&P 500 was down 0.2%. The Europe-wide Stoxx 600 was up 0.1% as carmakers rose 10.6%, encouraged by the resilient China data. China’s economy expanded 6.4% year-on-year in the first quarter, as government stimulus measures took hold.

On the currency markets, the pound was down 0.11% against the dollar at $1.30 and 0.24% against the euro at €1.15.

Finals

Modern Water

Trading Announcements

Moneysupermarket.com Group

PZ Cussons

Reckitt Benckiser Group

Rentokil Initial

Unilever

AGMs

Domino’s Pizza Group

Green Energy Technology Inc. GDR (Reg S)

Octopus AIM VCT 2

SEGRO

EGMs

UK Commercial Property Reit Limited

Int. Economic Announcements

(07:00) Producer Price Index (GER)

(07:00) Wholesale Price Index (GER)

(13:30) Continuing Claims (US)

(13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)

(13:30) Philadelphia Fed Index (US)

(13:30) Retail Sales (US)

(15:30) Business Inventories (US) 

Columns of Note 

Writing in the Spectator, Tom Holland explores the symbolism of the Notre Dame fire at Easter. It seems that the very message of Easter – from death comes life – is more deeply rooted in western culture than many might presume. Christianity itself sees us worship a victim: Christ on the cross. And the Notre Dame tragedy proves that this notion is alive today in the coming together of disparate factions of society in a common sense of loss. After all: “God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” (£)

In today’s Financial Times, Lionel Barber goes on the campaign trail in India’s Hindi heartlands, concluding that the battle for Uttar Pradesh is likely to determine the election. One of India’s poorest states, Uttar Pradesh is a key battleground between the Congress opposition party and the ruling Bharatiya Janata party; the latter keen to revoke India’s “Third World” status in a nationalist vow of self-betterment, the former prioritising “democracy, freedom, inclusion and diversity.” (£) 

Did you know?

In 2014, the most played song at British funerals was Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”.

Parliamentary highlights

TODAY

House of Commons
In recess until Tuesday 23 April
 
House of Lords
In recess until Wednesday 24 April
 
Scottish Parliament
In recess until Monday 22 April