19 February 2019

Tom Gillingham

19 February 2019

Good morning,
All of yesterday’s talk of political schisms transported me back to a stuffy Higher history class and an accidentally entertaining foray into a defining moment for the medieval church.
I remember my ears pricking up at the apparently rash actions of a certain moral theology professor and priest. It turns out that I’d misheard my teacher when I thought he’d said: “In 1517, Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five faeces to the door of the Wittenburg Castle Church.”
A salutary lesson, perhaps, in the importance of attention to detail. With the theses hitting the political fan left, right and centre at the moment, it is vital to understand the context for this Labour Party ‘schism’.
At the announcement press conference, it quickly became clear that the launch of the Independent Group (maybe not the best choice of name if they plan to entice the party’s pro-Union Scottish representatives) by seven Labour MPs was rooted in frustration with the current direction of the Labour Party and serious concerns about anti-Semitism, rather than just opposition to its Brexit policy.
While a press conference in a deliberately small room isn’t as symbolic as the (perhaps apocryphal) nailing of theses to a church entrance, the seven MPs will be hoping their very 2019 act of defiance encourages others to follow them out of the door.
The seriousness of the moment was slightly undermined by an unfortunate ‘hot mic’ incident however, which led to some ‘robust’ views being aired live on the BBC. A useful reminder of the importance of treating all microphones with healthy respect at live events.
It remains to be seen if this breakaway will amount to a true split in the Labour Party. After all, Jeremy Corbyn has faced the resignations of over 100 front benchers during his time at the top, but this announcement has certainly caused ripples across the political spectrum. All eyes will now be on other wavering Labour MPs and the leadership’s ongoing response to some very damaging accusations about the culture of the party.


Work continues on the UK and EU sides to try and salvage the Brexit deal. Officials from both sides are working on a new legal text to help counter concerns about the so-called Irish Backstop. This work continues as the Prime Minister tries to persuade a fracturing parliament to unite behind her plan.
After seven Labour MPs left to set up the Independent Group in Parliament, the BBC says it’s been told that two Conservative MPs are also thinking about defecting to join the group.

Despite high profile recent coverage of climate change, a report has found that most European companies have no target for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. Eighty per cent of the same group of organisations say that they see climate change as a business risk. Among those that do have climate change goals, only one in three stretch beyond 2025, according to the Carbon Disclosure Project report.

Business & Economy

Reaction continues to the news that Honda will close its Swindon car plant in 2022 – leading to the loss of 3,500 jobs. The local MP, Justin Tomlinson has said that the Japanese company has cited a range of global economic factors, not just Brexit, as the reason for the closures. The Unite Union has called the closure a “shattering body blow”.
A significant element of the City of London has been given a limited reprieve from the potential effects of a no-deal Brexit. The recognition of London’s three main clearing houses, LCH, ICE Clear Europe and LME Clear by the European Securities and Markets Authority (Esma), means that the companies can continue to process deals in commodities, securities and derivatives for 12 months, underpinning London’s leading role in the European clearing business for an interim period.
President Trump has once again threatened to impose steep tariffs on European car imports (£). Saying, “I like punitive tariffs”, the US president is expected to raise tariffs on the sector from 2.5 percent to 25 percent within the next three months. A shift of this magnitude could have severe repercussions for the German economy in particular.


What happened yesterday?

The FTSE 100 ended Monday slightly down after seeing out last week at a four-month high.
Feeling pressure from a rise in the pound and continuing Brexit concerns, the FTSE 100 index was down 0.24% to 7,219.47 as sterling rose by 0.19% versus the euro to 1.14. The currency was also up 0.25% against the dollar, to 1.29.
In the US, trading volumes were down as Wall Street was closed for the Presidents' Day holiday. Meanwhile, oil prices were on the up, with Brent crude climbing above $66.5 a barrel.

Bank of Georgia Group
HSBC Holdings
InterContinental Hotels Group

BHP Croup
Blancco Technology Group
DotDigital Group

Q4 Results
Bank of Georgia Group

UK Economic Announcements 
(09:30) Claimant Count Rate
(09:30) Unemployment Rate
International Economic Announcements 
(09:00) Current Account (EU)
(10:00) ZEW Survey (EU) - Economic Sentiment
(10:00) ZEW Survey (GER) - Current Situation
(10:00) ZEW Survey (GER) - Economic Sentiment

Columns of Note

Tamara Cohen writes for Sky News about the anguish on the faces of the defecting Labour MPs at yesterday’s press conference and speculates on whether or not they will be joined by more colleagues, or others from across the House of Commons.
Striking a different tone in a piece for the Independent, Jon Trickett says the MPs who have chosen to leave the party should now face by-elections. The Labour MP for Hemsworth remains loyal to Corbyn and suggests that the defectors putting their new alliance to the voters is the “right thing” to do.

Did you know?

Sharks predate trees. Sharks have been around for around 400 million years, whereas the earliest species that we could classify as 'trees' have only been around for around 350 million years.

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons
Oral questions 
Health and Social Care (including topical questions)
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Dog Meat (Consumption) (Offences) – Bill Wiggin
Statutory Instrument relating to the Draft European Structural and Investment Funds Common Provisions and Common Provision Rules etc. (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 – Greg Clark
Statutory Instrument relating to the Draft National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Regulations 2019 – Greg Clark
Statutory Instrument relating to the Draft Medicines for Human Use (Clinical Trials) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 – Stephen Hammond
General debate
NHS Ten Year Plan
Future of St Helier and St George’s hospitals – Siobhain McDonagh
House of Lords
Oral questions
Guaranteeing the staffing of tourism and hospitality projects following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU – Lord Roberts of Llandudno
Impact of the closure of local libraries in England – Baroness Pinnock
Number of older people living in the private rented sector – Baroness Grender
Replacing the backstop in the EU Withdrawal Agreement – Lord Empey
Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Bill – Report stage – Lord Hunt of Kings Heath
Healthcare (International Arrangements) Bill – Committee stage (day one) – Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford
Short debate
Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Amritsar massacre – Lord Loomba  
Scottish Parliament
Topical questions (if selected)
Ministerial Statement: Response to the latest EU Exit vote in Westminster
Scottish Government Debate: Scottish Rate Resolution
Committee Announcements
Business Motions
Parliamentary Bureau Motions
House of Commons
Prime Minister’s Question Time
Oral questions
Statutory Instrument relating to the Draft Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 - Chris Grayling
House of Lords 
Oral questions
Number of bills and statutory instruments which need to be passed by Parliament before UK withdrawal from the European Union - Lord Beith
Orders and regulations
Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 - Baroness Sugg
Orders and regulations
Merchant Shipping (Marine Equipment) (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 - Baroness Sugg
Scottish Parliament
Portfolio questions
Health and Sport

Preliminary Stage Debate
Hutchesons’ Hospital Transfer and Dissolution (Scotland) Bill