19 April 2018


19 April 2018

Good morning,

Cuba has been synonymous with Castro rule for as long as many of us can remember. Since Fidel Castro took power from the American-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959, he or members of his family have ruled continuously over Cuba.

That was until yesterday, when Miguel Díaz-Canel was proposed as the sole candidate to replace Cuba's current president Raúl Castro. His candidacy will almost certainly be unanimously agreed by the National Assembly today, on what is the 57th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs invasion.

Cuba's colourful history will not be forgotten, nor will the Castros’ influence on it. Their rule was a constant throughout much political and societal upheaval in the 20th century. Castro played a key role in the Cold War, aligning Cuba with Russia in the ideological struggle, and his country became a focal point for some of the defining moments of the tension between the US and Russia, including the Cuban Missile Crisis.

However, as the USSR crumbled, the Castro dictatorship survived and Díaz-Canel, despite not sharing the famous surname, is not expected to depart strongly from the Castro ideology. He is deemed a party stalwart who has "served his time" and is known for his pragmatism.

In Cuba, personalities rather than institutions still dominate politics, and the Castros will still hold considerable influence behind the scenes. It is for that reason that many Cubans expect business as usual.

But as we have seen from other examples, where countries are led by dictators synonymous with their political systems, a changing of the guard can lead to considerable problems and often political upheaval.

The most relevant example in this case is Venezuela, which has descended into chaos following the death of Hugo Chávez. The Cuban old guard will hope for no such problems in Havana as the Castro name makes way for others, but as liberalisation continues in the outside world, they may well wonder if new problems lie ahead.


Donald Trump and Shinzo Abe have agreed during their joint summit at Mar-a-Lago that maximum pressure must be kept on the North Korean regime, with the US president suggesting he would walk out of talks if they were not fruitful. The comment follows CIA Director Mike Pompeo's visit to the country to begin negotiations on the logistics of the talks.

Two claims regarding Windrush migrants made by Theresa May at Prime Minister's Questions yesterday have immediately come under criticism. May promised that Anthony Thompson, a cancer patient denied free treatment on the NHS due to inadequate documentation, would get the care he needed. However, his lawyers announced yesterday that there had been no change to his status. Additionally, despite claiming a controversial decision to destroy landing cards had been taken under the last Labour government, it emerged she had also made a decision on the policy in 2010 when Home Secretary.

In more bad news for the Home Office, it has been accused by a House of Lords report of "profiteering on citizenship applications from children born in the UK". It emerged that despite being born in the UK, many young people are forced to pay as much as £1000 for citizenship, when the process costs £400.

Dale Winton, the former host of popular TV show Dale's Supermarket Sweep, has died at the age of 62. Winton also presented the BBC's lottery show 'In It To Win It' and appeared on the game show 'Hole In The Wall'.

Business & Economy

Four of Unilever's top shareholders in the UK have told the Financial Times that they are "extremely worried" about the company's proposed headquarter move to the Netherlands. Unilever has held a number of meetings with large shareholders in a bid to convince them that streamlining the corporate structure in Rotterdam is best for the business, but the company continues to face investor unrest.

The UK government is set to give a green light to Melrose Industries' proposed takeover of GKN, after finding no national security concerns. The announcement will follow high profile interventions during the takeover process from Gavin Williamson, defence secretary, and Greg Clark, the business secretary. However, the two government ministers are expected to seek further guarantees on any defence work.

Bovis, one of Britain's biggest housebuilders, has been accused of "deliberately" delaying essential repairs to badly built homes and of misleading buyers. The findings, reported in The Times, also document instances where Bovis has been accused of "underhand behaviour" with customers in order to limit bad publicity.


What happened yesterday?
The FTSE 100 was up 1.26% or 91.29 points to 7,317.34 yesterday, on the back of inflation data that knocked the pound lower and raised doubts over a Bank of England rate rise next month.

Hammerson shares rose after it announced it had withdrawn its recommendation for its proposed takeover of Intu Properties. The group blamed the reversal on changing conditions in the UK retail market and opposition from some shareholders. Intu shares fell on the news.

Mediclinic International rose after announcing it expects profits for the year to be ahead of expectations, thanks to a "significant" second half improvement in its Middle East hospitals.

Also on the rise was Moneysupermarket, as the price comparison website reported a four per cent jump in first-quarter revenue. It also said it remains confident of meeting current market expectations.

On the currency markets, the pound was down 0.48% against the dollar to $1.42191 and 0.55% weaker against the euro at €1.1486.

Xeros Technology Group


Domino's Pizza Group
MPAC Group
Relx Plc

UK Economic Announcements
(09:00) Current Account (EU)
(09:30) Retail Sales

International Economic Announcements
(13:30) Continuing Claims (US)
(13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)
(13:30) Philadelphia Fed Index (US)

Columns of Note

Michael Gove, writing in The Times, argues that with the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting this week, it is time to put environmental issues back on the table and create a better future for our planet.

Attracta Mooney, writing in the Financial Times, outlines the 11 potential investor revolts to watch out for in the coming months. These include a potential backlash over Unilever's proposed move to Rotterdam and worries over Sir Martin Sorrell's legacy at WPP.

Did you know?

To keep news of the Cuban Missile Crisis from leaking, a concocted cold was blamed for President Kennedy’s cancellation of public events.

Parliamentary highlights


House of Commons

Oral Questions
Transport (including Topical Questions)

Business Statement
Business Questions to the Leader of the House - Andrea Leadsom

Backbench Business
Debate on a motion on surgical mesh - Emma Hardy
Debate on a motion on cancer treatment - Sarah Jones

House of Lords

Oral Questions
Criteria for an independent inquiry into a police investigation - Lord Sherbourne of Didsbury
Availability of legal aid - Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist
Reducing childhood obesity - Baroness Jenkin of Kennington

Scottish Parliament

General Questions

First Minister's Questions

Scottish Government Debate: Safe Injection Facilities


House of Commons

No business scheduled.

House of Lords

No business scheduled.

Scottish Parliament
No business scheduled.