18 March 2019

Stuart Taylor

18 March 2019

Good morning,

I do not recall exactly why, but I remember a maths teacher at school trying to explain how much larger a billion pounds is compared to a million. We were asked to think of every pound as one second and for a million seconds to elapse, it would take 12 days. For a billion seconds, using some crude calculations, it would take around 32 years.
Perhaps in those three decades, Theresa May might wonder what value she’s drawn from that £1bn financial sweetener for Northern Ireland, negotiated with the DUP in 2017 in exchange for propping up her minority government.
So far, it’s fair to assume it’s not quite working out how the PM envisaged and the DUP is said to remain unconvinced ahead of a possible third vote on Mrs May’s deal this week in the House of Commons.
This morning’s Financial Times reports that May is hoping for third time lucky as she prepares to put it in front of MPs once again and sees the DUP as the key to breaking the deadlock, believing that their support would persuade a sufficient number of Tory Eurosceptics to fall into line and deliver an unlikely victory.

The DUP will meet members of the government later today to set out their demands in exchange for any backing, including material changes to the Irish backstop, winter fuel payments and rules on air passenger taxes, which the party argues has had a negative impact on the region’s tourism industry given the levy does not apply in the rest of Ireland.
Even if the government is able to go to Brussels and extract these concessions from the EU, those crucial 10 votes from DUP MPs will likely come with a significant price tag. Although Philip Hammond did his best to deny it to Andrew Marr, a further £1 billion in funding for Northern Ireland appears to remain a serious proposition.
And while it might be money that secures the DUP’s support, for some of May’s own backbenchers it’s a proposal that money can’t buy. A number of papers this morning report that the prime minister will only attract support from party rebels if, in return, she agrees to give a clearer schedule for her departure and make way for a new team to progress the next stage of negotiations. People in the camp calling for change include former party co-chair Grant Shapps and Dover MP Charlie Elphicke, while influential Brexiters such as David Davis, who backs the PM’s deal, agree that a change of leadership is needed.
So, another busy week for the PM if she is to secure the most unlikely of parliamentary victories. And if the Government predicts another defeat, there will be no vote at all.
We, er, look forward to another unpredictable week in UK and European politics.


New Zealand’s prime minister has said her cabinet has backed changes to gun law "in principle" after last week’s barbaric attack on two mosques left 50 dead and many injured. Jacinda Ardern said she expected to give details of the reforms by 25 March.
Ethiopia’s transport minister has revealed that flight data from the Ethiopian Airlines disaster a week ago suggest "clear similarities" with a crash off Indonesia last October. Dagmawit Moges told journalists that a preliminary report on the Ethiopian Airlines jet that crashed after take-off from Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board, would be released within 30 days.

Jeremy Corbyn faces the wrath of many of his supporters after he revealed he could vote to leave the European Union were a second referendum to be held. He told Sophy Ridge On Sunday on Sky News that how he voted would be heavily dependent on the choices on the ballot paper. (£)

Business & Economy

Germany’s two largest banks have begun merger talks that would reshape Germany’s financial sector and create the eurozone’s second-largest lender by assets. Exploratory talks are underway over the merger of Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank and, if a deal is successful, would create a lender with €1.9tn in joined assets and more than 140,000 employees, making it second only to BNP Paribas. (£)
JD Sports has made an offer worth £90.1m to purchase clothing and shoe retailer Footasylum. JD Sports already owns 8% of the troubled retailer after buying a stake in February and said that both businesses would complement each other.
Fintech group FIS has today unveiled plans to buy payments company Worldpay in a $43bn deal. The merger will "enhance [FIS]'s acquiring and payment offerings and significantly increases Worldpay's distribution footprint, accelerating its entry into new geographies", the companies said in a statement announcing the deal.


The week ahead

Both the Bank of England and the US Federal Reserve are to set monetary policy this week. For the BoE, expectations for any shift in interest rate policy are low, but traders, investors and economists will scrutinise the minutes of the Monetary Policy Committee’s decision for any signs of how Brexit affects the balance of risks facing the UK economy. It’s a similar story across the pond, with investors and economists in agreement that policy will remain unchanged at the US central bank.
In Germany, the auction for 5G services will get underway with four companies — operators Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, Telefónica Deutschland and potential new entrant 1&1 Drillische — all due to take part.
On the corporate earnings calendar, Next, Nike, BMW, packaged foods company ConAgra and jeweller Tiffany will all report this week.

Gama Aviation
Maintel Holdings
Miton Group
S4 Capital

Volution Group (WI)
Int. Economic Announcements
(10:00) Balance of Trade (EU)

Columns of Note

Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Glasgow, and Professor Paola Severino, vice president of Luiss Guido Carli University in Italy, write in The Telegraph that, despite the political circumstances in their home countries and in the EU, universities must continue to serve as the bridge across a Europe simmering with discontent. (£)
In The Sunday Times, Kevin Pringle says we should be mindful of the language we use  when talking about political matters of today as it has an impact on our public discourse. However, he says that politics by its very nature is coarse and debased and its therefore much more important we mend our politics before the language we use when talking about it. (£)

Did you know?

The March March March is a march that takes place in March in March, Cambridgeshire.

Parliamentary highlights 

House of Commons
Oral questions
Work and Pensions (including Topical Questions)
Human Medicines (Amendment) Regulations 2019
Amendments relating to the provision of Integrated Care Regulations 2019
Draft Organic Production (Control of Imports) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019
Draft Organic Production and Control (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019
House of Lords
Oral questions
Recruitment, use, deployment, numbers and oversight of children used as spies by the police - Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb
Ensuring the museum sector is able to support the proposed Festival of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 2022 - Lord Goddard of Stockport
Requiring adults riding bicycles in city centres to have a licence and third-party insurance - Lord Winston
Restoring a functioning Executive and Assembly in Northern Ireland - Lord Dubs
Scottish Parliament 
No business scheduled
House of Commons
Oral questions
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Fracking (Seismic Activity) - Lee Rowley
Draft Food Additives, Flavourings, Enzymes and Extraction Solvents (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019
Draft Materials and Articles in Contact with Food (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019
Draft Genetically Modified Food and Feed (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019
Draft Novel Food (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019
Draft Animal Feed (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019
House of Lords
Oral questions
Mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid to help prevent foetal abnormalities - Lord Rooker
Decline in the insect population - Baroness Boycott
Improving transparency of costs and options for holiday accommodation - Baroness Doocey
Impact of proposed tariffs in the event of a no-deal Brexit on farming in the UK - Baroness McIntosh of Pickering
Scottish Parliament
Topical Questions (if selected)
Stage 3 Proceedings: Damages (Investment Returns and Periodical Payments) (Scotland) Bill