19 May

Ania Lewandowska

19 May

Good morning,

Five of the UK's political leaders squared off in the first TV debate of the 2017 General Election campaign but Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn chose not to participate.

UKIP, Lib Dem, Green Party, SNP and Plaid Cymru leaders clashed on the Brexit deal, NHS funding, social care, rising living costs and education, followed by a lively debate on the Barnett Formula.

Overall the two-hour ITV debate lacked controversies. Most entertaining was Paul Nuttall, who has been widely mocked on social media for calling Leanne Wood 'Natalie'. Twice.

The absent Prime Minister was taking a break from TV appearances after a busy day launching the Conservatives manifesto.

In a speech in Halifax the PM insisted “there is no Mayism” only “solid Conservatism”, as she delivered her plan. May’s approach was symbolised by the scrapping of key commitments made by David Cameron, among them the “tax lock” ruling out future increases, and the triple lock protecting the value of state pensions.

The manifesto vows to revamp the way people pay for social care and to cut net immigration to tens of thousands, although George Osborne’s Evening Standard has claimed that not a single senior cabinet minister privately supports the target.

The Tory pledge is to stick to the plan for corporation tax to fall to 17 per cent by 2020. There will also be new rules governing takeovers of companies in “critical national infrastructure” including telecoms, energy, defence and civil nuclear power.

The 88-page manifesto promises a "mainstream government that would deliver for mainstream Britain" but before this happens, May and her party need mainstream voters to back them on June 8.

News

A woman is dead and 22 other people injured after a car sped on to a pavement in New York City's Times Square. 18-year-old Alyssa Elsman was killed when a car driven by a 26-year-old with a history of drink driving ploughed through the crowded street. The FBI is investigating the incident at the Midtown Manhattan tourist venue, but so far officials say there is no terror link.

The Japanese government has approved a one-off bill that allows ageing Emperor Akihito to step down from the Chrysanthemum Throne, in what would be the first such abdication in two centuries. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet signed off on the legislation - the bill will now be sent to parliament where it is expected to pass.

President Donald Trump set off on his first foreign trip, traveling to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Rome, and Brussels. Saudi Arabia arms deal, Syria's war and Arab-Israeli peace are set to top the agenda. Trump will hold a separate session with leaders of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council before lunch with 56 invited Arab and Muslim leaders to discuss combating "extremism".

Business & Economy

Brazil's Bovespa stock market was briefly halted yesterday as investors reacted to corruption allegations against Brazilian President Michel Temer. Temer was forced to deny a newspaper report that he had given consent to paying off a witness in a huge corruption scandal. At one stage São Paulo’s main stock market index fell 10.7 per cent, triggering an automatic halt to trading.

London City Airport has announced it is to become the first UK airport to build and operate a digital air traffic control tower, with a multi-million pound investment in the technology. The Airport has approved plans for a new, remote tower, at the top of which will be 14 High Definition cameras and two pan-tilt-zoom cameras.

Four major car firms have agreed to pay $553m (£425.6m) to compensate owners affected by the Takata airbag inflator recall. Toyota Motor Corp will pay $278.5m, BMW, $131m, Mazda, $76m and Subaru, $68m. Lawsuits against Honda, Ford and Nissan have not been settled yet. A fault in Takata's airbags meant some exploded when triggered, resulting in the deaths of at least 16 people worldwide. The defect prompted recalls worldwide of about 100 million inflators by 19 major car firms.

Markets

The FTSE 100 closed lower yesterday as volatile trading in the US and a jump in the value of sterling hit investor confidence.

London’s index closed nearly one per cent down after the political controversy in the US surrounding President Trump continued to hit investor confidence.

The blue chip index ended 67.05 points, or 0.89%, lower at 7,436.42, suffering its biggest percentage loss since 13th April, according to FactSet data.

The top fallers were Royal Dutch Shell A and B, down 3.5% and 3.98% respectively, while Randgold Resources slumped 2.61%.

The top riser was Burberry, which climbed 4.69% after it issued its full-year earnings report.

The pound was up 0.25% against the dollar at $1.3003, and was 0.59% higher against the euro at 1.1687 euros.

AGMs
888 Holdings (888), AcenciA Debt Strategies (ACD), Aminex plc (AEX), Asian Growth Properties (AGP), Cairn Energy plc (CNE), CPP Group plc (CPP), Cronin Group plc (CRON), Derwent London plc (DLN), Eurocell plc (ECEL), Greggs Plc (GRG), Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK), Hunters Property plc (HUNT), Hygea VCT Plc (HYG)
John Laing Infrastructure Fund Ltd (JLIF), Moss Bros Group plc (MOSB), SafeCharge International Group Limited (SCH), Volga Gas Plc (VGAS)

UK Economic Announcements
(11:00) CBI Industrial Trends Surveys

International Economic Announcements
(7:00) Producer Price Index (GER)
(9:00) Current Account (EU)

Trading Announcements
Close Brothers Group plc (CBG)
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK)

Columns of Note

Writing in The Guardian, Polly Toynbee examines the Tory manifesto pledges. She writes May is taking some bold steps in raising money from elderly home-owners. Toynbee is convinced the Conservatives’ plan means people are entering a lottery of life and death, which will see some families paying a fortune and losing all but the last £100,000 of their inheritance.

Fraser Nelson’s opinion piece in The Telegraph presents a different view. Nelson looks back at manifesto promises in the past and concludes that “bribing pensioners had become an addiction that no party leader seemed able to break”.

Did you know?

The Mexican ambassador to the United States, said in response to the Kennedy administration’s 1961 call to collective action against Cuba: “If we publicly declare that Cuba is a threat to our security, 40 million Mexicans will die laughing.”

Parliamentary highlights

TODAY

House of Commons

In dissolution. The House will next sit on Monday 19th June.

House of Lords

In dissolution. The House will next sit on Monday 19th June.

Scottish Parliament

No business scheduled