18 July 2019

Katie Stanton

18 July 2019

Good morning,
 
It’s not often I am captivated by someone.
 
Of my myriad flaws, I am mostly stubborn, generally argumentative and occasionally supercilious. My attention span for political guff is nil and I am, as I suppose is everyone, unequivocally bored with a capital B of our laborious departure from the European Union.
 
Like it or not, what started as a hot, heavy summer romance, dramatic and immediate, has grown stale and depressing. We repeat the same old tricks, re-enact the same sorry routine, the fire long grown cold, and now we face the sad reality: muddle through or give it up.
 
If only it were that simple.
 
For me, though, one man was able to inject some passion and light back into this sad affair. I like to think of him as a big, fat blazing row at some tragic service station on the M4, the kind of relationship-defining commotion that reminds you there’s some life in this sad beast yet. There’s a reason we’re here, I can still feel something – even if it is pure frustration.
 
And thus begins my ode to Rory Stewart.
 
Now obviously Rory has his flaws, we all do. But his Tory leadership campaign reminded me of something much purer than the yes (wo)men of modern politics. I think I was feeling something akin to (dare I say it)… representation.
 
In our polarised political landscape, finally someone was talking to me. Boring, moderate me; a jaded sourpuss, sleuthing around the increasingly barren centre-ground looking for some shred of hope and humanity.
 
But set aside his policies for a moment. It was not his promises making me weak at the knees so much as his finesse – or distinct lack thereof.  
 
Throughout his campaign, he called on voters to engage, mostly via the medium of totally embarrassing but utterly adorable videos posted to social media. Kind of like politics’ answer to Louis Theroux, his unthreatening demeanour and tragic clumsiness had me hanging off every word.
 
And yes, having only been able to vote for six years, I am entirely naïve. And yes, his campaign was probably as carefully crafted as the rest of them. But Rory felt like a ray of sunshine in this dingey Brexit basement. And finally, someone wanted to hear from me, from everyone.
 
I wasn’t the only one under his spell: the Conservative leadership hopeful managed to go from same-as-the-rest-of-them to man-of-the-people in breakneck speed, doubling his supporters in the second round of votes.
 
But even though his campaign hopes were sadly fruitless, the exercise made me think more generally about our political landscape and how little I have, as a young(ish) person, felt genuinely engaged with a politician. I think I’ve for the most part disregarded them as duplicitous, snakey creatures, not to be trusted and certainly not admired.
 
This is an undoubtedly common perception amongst the youth of today and a clear barrier to attracting the best talent to the top jobs.
 
Nevertheless, Rory’s quirky brand of honesty just felt different. In fact, it’s probably akin to what endears people to Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn. They’re all less shiny robot, drip-feeding carefully engineered lines; more real human being.
 
So, what’s to take away from this trip into the recesses of my emotional psyche? Well aside from the fact that perhaps the very nature of our politicians is changing, I think Rory’s campaign is a general reminder: never disregard the power of candour and an active Twitter account.
 
Now please excuse me while I add Rory Stewart to my weird crush list – I think somewhere in between Kevin McCloud and Rick Stein should do just fine.

News

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has warned this morning that the UK will have to “face the consequences” if it opts to leave without a deal. He told BBC Panorama that Theresa May’s agreement was the “only way to leave the EU in an orderly manner”.
 
The director-general of the BBC acknowledged yesterday that the broadcaster could switch away from the licence fee to a Netflix-style voluntary subscription model. The compulsory licence fee is guaranteed until 2027, after which the broadcaster will negotiate a new funding arrangement with the government. (£)
 
Young drivers in England could be banned from driving at night under plans for a graduated licence system. Ministers are considering the move after figures were released that suggest one in five drivers are involved in a crash within a year of passing their test. But the AA warned “excessive” safety measures could become an “unnecessary burden” for motorists.

Business & Economy

The number of electric car models available to consumers in Europe is expected to triple by 2021, according to European transport experts. The uptake in electric vehicles has been stalling, blamed mostly on a lack of charging infrastructure and higher prices.
 
Netflix has seen a slowing in membership growth in the second quarter, as price rises and a lack of big new shows take their toll. The company added 2.7 million paid members in the three months to the end of June, significantly less than the projected 5 million, and well below the 5.5 million subscribers added in the second quarter a year ago. Shares in the giant fell sharply in the after-hours trading on Wall Street. (£)
 
Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority and frontrunner to become the next Bank of England governor, has come under fireafter a public meeting held by the watchdog descended into jeering. Bailey and his colleagues were heckled yesterday by victims of the £237 million London Capital & Finance scandal as well as those with longstanding grievances about the authority’s handling of controversies related to RBS and HBOS. (£)

Markets

US stocks slumped yesterday following more subdued trading in global stock markets as investors digested a fresh batch of earnings reports and Donald Trump hinted that there would be no swift resolution to the US-China trade dispute.
 
Wall Street’s S&P 500 shed 0.65%, slipping from record highs. Weak results for CSX Corp put pressure on railway stocks, tumbling 10.3% in their biggest one-day drop in nearly 17 years as a slowdown in the US economy starts to impact on rail operators.
 
Closer to home, the FTSE 100 was down 0.6% after its rally over the previous session, helped by the weak pound. Sterling was calmer though following inflation data that met forecasts, soothing nerves around the currency which had fallen further in earlier trade.
 
The pound fell nearly one per cent to a new two-year low earlier on Tuesday after Conservative leadership candidates Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt hardened their stances on a no-deal Brexit.
 
Sterling was up 0.03% against the dollar at $1.24 and down 0.09% against the euro at €1.10.

What's happening today?

Finals
SDI Group
Srt Marine Sys.
 
Interims
Audioboom Grp.
Moneysupermarket.com
 
Trading Announcements
Anglo American
easyJet
Eve Sleep
SSE
Thomas Cook

AGMs
Babcock
Evgen Pharma
Lenta S
Novacyt
Octopus Aim
Royal Mail
SSE
Zoltav Res
 
UK Economic Announcements
(09:30) Retail Sales
 
Int. Economic Announcements
(13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)
(13:30) Philadelphia Fed Index (US)
(13:30) Continuing Claims (US)

Columns of Note

In this edition of The New Yorker, Siddhartha Mukherjee sheds light on the development of “living drugs” which can cure incurable cancers – but can we afford them? Short answer: probably not in the long-term. The drugs need to be individually generated for each patient and, thus, automation and production is laborious and incurs a price tag to match. To support this long-term we will need a much more flexible system of medicines pricing; one which shares the risk of treatment failure with pharmaceutical companies. Nevertheless, the article gives fascinating insight into the research and development of CAR-T therapies, some of which have been able to “melt away” terminal cancers previously unresponsive to treatment. (£)
 
Simon Kuper laments in the Financial Times that Brexit has not only tarnished the nation’s global image, but it has destroyed any semblance of individual British coolness. Until now, going around with a British accent was mostly an advantage, but Brexit discourse has transported us right back to that stereotypical, Downton Abbey, pompous arrogance so disliked across the world, and in particular in Europe. So, expect fewer kind words on your summer holiday this year, the invisible label of “moronic xenophobe”, however unfair, is one that we sadly all have to wear. (£)

Did you know?

The amount of food needed to feed the world in the next 40 years is more than has ever been harvested in the rest of human history.

Parliamentary highlights

TODAY 
House of Commons
Oral questions
Transport (including Topical Questions)
 
Business Statement
Business Questions to the Leader of the House - Mel Stride
 
Select Committee Statement
Eighteenth Report of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee on Governance of Official Statistics: redefining the dual roles of the UK Statistics Authority; and re-evaluating the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007, HC 1820
 
Consideration of Lords amendments
If necessary
 
Backbench Business
Debate on a Motion on the Bishop of Truro's Review on Persecution of Christians Overseas - Chris Philp, Fiona Bruce, Jim Shannon, David Linden
 
General Debate on Non-Invasive Precision Therapies for cancer - Grahame Morris, Tim Farron
 
Adjournment
Sanctuary Housing Group - Mr Mark Francois
 
House of Lords

Oral questions
Government advice to British citizens intending to climb Mount Everest during the autumn and spring seasons to reduce the risk of loss of life - Lord Forsyth of Drumlean
 
Reviewing the recruitment processes of UK Visas and Immigration and the Border Force - Lord Marlesford
 
Ensuring that lottery providers who operate on a national basis, other than the National Lottery, spend a minimum of 25 per cent of their profits on the funding of good causes - Lord Addington
 
The government of Turkey's purchase of surface-to-air missiles from Russia - Lord West of Spithead
 
Debate
Conduct Committee report: 'Amendments to the rules of conduct' - Lord Mance
 
Future of trade unions; and of wider industry representation, solidarity and collective action; and of the 100th anniversary of the International Labour Organisation - Lord Jordan
 
Assessment of the United States’ Peace to Prosperity economic plan for Palestine, published on 26 June - Lord Cope of Berkeley
 
Impact and response to the funding levels of public services that interact with young adults - Baroness Massey of Darwen
 
Scottish Parliament

On recess until Monday 1 September.
 
TOMORROW
House of Commons
No business scheduled.
 
House of Lords
No business scheduled.