Theresa May survived yet another bruising day in the House of Commons yesterday, but the fragility of the Brexit process and her own premiership continues to be put to the test.
In a day of drama in Westminster, the prime minister was able to narrowly defeat a bid by pro-European Conservative MPs to keep Britain in a customs union with the EU, with four of the six crucial votes coming from leave-backing Labour MPs. Twelve Conservative MPs backed the amendment, defying their leader’s threats that they either support her plan to leave the customs union following Brexit or she would trigger a vote of confidence that would lead to another general election.
It is perhaps just as well for May that she was able to stave off the need for another ballot after a YouGov poll for The Times last night showed that Jeremy Corbyn’s party has pulled further ahead of the Conservatives, with the clamour for a second EU referendum also gathering pace.
And if the prime minister thinks she’s suffered a gruelling week already, there’s the small matter of a resignation speech by Boris Johnson for her to look forward to today. The statement is highly anticipated among MPs, with word that it is to be as spectacular and explosive as that of Sir Geoffrey Howe in 1990, which brought about the downfall of Margaret Thatcher.
With the former foreign secretary continuing to cast a long shadow over Number 10 from the backbenches, it is little wonder the prime minister was so keen yesterday to bring forward the start of parliament’s summer recess.
Donald Trump has claimed that he misspoke when he said on Monday that he rejected the findings of US intelligence agencies into Russia's interference with the 2016 election. The US president said he had "full faith and support" in US intelligence agencies after his original comments drew a barrage of criticism.
Ephraim Mirvis, the chief rabbi, has said it was “astonishing” Labour felt more qualified than the Jewish community to define antisemitism after the party’s national executive committee overrode the concerns of its parliamentary party to establish new rules on antisemitic behaviour in its ranks. (£)
Barack Obama has taken aim at "strongman politics" and politicians' disregard for the facts, in remarks that have been interpreted as thinly veiled criticism of the current US administration. The former president was speaking at an event to commemorate 100 years since the birth of former South African president Nelson Mandela.
Business & Economy
Rolls-Royce may shortly begin to stockpile key parts as it prepares itself for a disorderly Brexit. Britain’s largest aircraft engine maker, frustrated by the pace of progress with negotiations in Brussels, said it was preparing to take “costly” and “inconvenient” steps to shore up inventories of components by the end of the year. (£)
Marks & Spencer has today cut its ties with the Big Six energy providers, announcing that it has agreed a new partnership with challenger Octopus Energy as part of a five-year transformation plan. The retailer said it was moving away from the "outdated model" of traditional energy suppliers in order to deliver consumers a fairer price.
Google will today find out if it is to receive a record fine from the European Commission over its Android operating system. The tech giant could face a fine of up to $11.1bn or be forced to unbundle Android from its Chrome browser after the regulator claimed the company’s mobile device strategy unfairly strengthened its dominance of search.
What happened yesterday?
The FTSE 100 ended the day yesterday slightly ahead, closing 0.3% higher at 7,626 points. The biggest riser was Just Eat, with shares in the takeaway app increasing by 2.6%. The biggest faller was Paddy Power Betfair with shares plummeting by 3.2%.
It was a strong day in Europe in general, with the continent-wide Stoxx 600 up 0.3% and Frankfurt’s Xetra Dax up 0.9%, helped by demand for financial and industrial stocks.
Sterling slid against both the euro and the dollar as concerns intensified that Theresa May could lose a key parliamentary vote on Brexit. According to UBS strategist John Wraith, there are “no good arguments for going long on sterling at the moment”, given the likelihood that parliament could reject a deal put in front of them late in 2018, placing both the agreement on future relationships and the transition period after the end of March 2019 in serious jeopardy.
It was a buoyant day on Wall Street, thanks in part to comments by Federal Reserve chairman Jay Powell, who expressed confidence in the outlook for the US economy. The S&P 500 index closed up 0.4%.
Close Brothers Group
Int. Economic Announcements
(10:00) Consumer Price Index (EU)
(12:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US)
(13:30) Building Permits (US)
(13:30) Housing Starts (US)
(15:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)
Ashmore Global Opportunities Limited GBP, Biffa, Bloomsbury Publishing, B.P. Marsh & Partners, BTG, Experian, Montanaro UK Smaller Companies Inv Trust, Premier Foods, Polarean Imaging, Renold, RPC Group, Summit Germany Limited, Severn Trent, TalkTalk Telecom Group
UK Economic Announcements
(09:30) Consumer Price Index
(09:30) Producer Price Index
(09:30) Retail Price Index
Columns of Note
In his weekly column in the Financial Times, Martin Wolf says that Donald Trump’s behaviour gives the impression that he is hostile to core American values of democracy, freedom and the rule of law. Wolf contends that the Republican elite are responsible for the country losing the values it used to stand for and says it won’t return to its former glories until someone “finds a more politically successful way of meeting the needs and anxieties of ordinary people”. (£)
Also in the Financial Times, Brooke Masters contends that there are few tasks more important than planning for the replacement of a chief executive. Referencing notable examples including Elon Musk and Papa John’s John Schnatter, Masters says that having a charismatic founder makes sense when the company is in its infancy, but there must be infrastructure in place to ensure this talent and eccentricity does not go unharnessed. (£)
Did you know?
Thomas Jefferson created his own version of the Bible, using a razor to cut out all mentions of the ‘supernatural’, such as the miracles and the resurrection. Today, new members of Congress receive a copy upon election.
House of Commons
Prime Minister's Question Time
The Future Relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union
House of Lords
Current uses, and potential future uses, of distributed ledger technologies across Whitehall - Lord Holmes of Richmond
Increasing knowledge of work skills, careers and jobs amongst primary school children - Baroness Garden of Frognal
Ensuring the Cross Country rail franchise, when re-let, continues to provide regular services to stations north of Newcastle. - Lord Beith
Treatment and conditions of prisoners in England and Wales - Lord Ramsbotham
Northern Ireland Budget (No. 2) Bill (Money Bill) – Second reading and remaining stages - Lord Duncan of Springbank
Addressing the incidence of obesity - Lord McColl of Dulwich
In recess until 3 September
House of Commons
Exiting the European Union (including Topical Questions)
Business Questions to the Leader of the House - Andrea Leadsom
House of Lords
Appoint an Ambassador on Freedom of Religion or Belief - Baroness Berridge
Ensuring people offering their properties for short-term or holiday lets have a legal right to do so - Baroness Gardner of Parkes
Granting powers to Transport for the North to manage all Northern railway infrastructure - Lord Scriven
Britain’s place in the annual ranking of global broadband speed and the impact of low broadband speeds - The Lord Bishop of St Albans
Value to the United Kingdom of higher education as an export - Lord Norton of Louth
Impact of referendums on parliamentary democracy in the UK - Lord Higgins