2 October 2018

Tom Gillingham

2 October 2018

Good morning,

As the Conservative conference enters its penultimate day, concerns abound about the Party's relevance to younger voters. Stories have circulated about less than full conference rooms and various senior figures have bemoaned a perceived lack of 'youth' appeal.

In actual fact, the Conservative Party's travails this conference season should be easily understood by the Fortnite generation.

After all, we are witnessing a bitter (and sometimes comedic) battle for personal supremacy, taking place in an arena where any room for manoeuvre quickly evaporates as the Article 50 clock ticks down.

There are even larger-than-life characters who enjoy building precarious platforms to gain advantage over their closest challengers and, of course, they all come armed with odd-sounding weapons like Chequers and Canada Plus-Plus. Forget the news at ten, perhaps the conference organisers should consider streaming the rest of this years' proceedings live on Twitch.

Levity aside, all eyes are now on Theresa May's keynote speech tomorrow. After a broadly warm reception to Jeremy Corbyn's conference address last week, the pressure on the Prime Minister from all sides can't be underestimated. Whether its prominent donors raising concerns about the business implications of Brexit, Cabinet rows over HS2, or the noise being created by one former Foreign Secretary, hers is a speech with a lot riding on it.

Perhaps, then, there is one final lesson from Fortnite that the various Tory plotters could do well to remember. As most people under the age of 18 know, the glory of being the last man or woman standing is only fleeting because another round is always waiting to begin.

News

Tensions are rising in Palu following Friday's Tsunami, which is now believed to have killed 844 people. Aid agencies in Indonesia say they are struggling to reach the areas worst affected due to damaged infrastructure.

The Prime Minister is preparing to limit Britain’s ability to strike free-trade deals after Brexit to try and break the deadlock in negotiations with the EU. Theresa May is said to be considering a “grand bargain”, which would align Britain to European customs rules on goods after the transition period ends in December 2020. (£)

In the US, President Trump has claimed he would be happy for the FBI to interview the three women who have accused Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual offences. He also said if the probe turned something up, he would have to look at it.

Business & Economy 

PwC’s global chairman, Bob Moritz, has rejected calls for the 'Big Four' accounting firms (EY, KPMG, Deloitte and PwC) to be broken up, warning this sort of change would hurt audit quality and reduce the appeal of the sector to potential new recruits. (£)

The entire senior management at the House of Fraser has been sacked by Mike Ashley, just weeks after his company bought the department store chain. Those departing include chief executive Alex Williamson, who had been in post for just over a year.

By the end of yesterday, Royal Mail stocks had fallen by a record 22.3%, its worst one day performance since its listing in 2013. The drops were prompted by the postal service warning investors that full year profits would be lower than previously expected.

Markets

Significant profit warnings from Royal Mail and Ryanair were key features of FTSE100 trading yesterday meaning the index finished the day down by 0.19%, at 7,495.67.

Elsewhere, the apparent de-escalation in US trade policy towards Canada and Mexico boosted some US stocks, but less encouraging economic figures from Asia tempered positive sentiment on the global markets.

Oil rose to over $85 per barrel for the first time since November 2014 and ended the day up nearly 3 per cent at $85.16. President Trump's ongoing confrontation with Iran was cited as the primary reason for this increase.

Following a high-profile few weeks, Tesla endured a busy day of trading, finishing the day over 17% up, with investors drawing confidence from Elon Musk stepping down as chairman and positive expectations around production of the company's flagship Model 3 vehicle. 

On the currency markets, the pound was flat against the dollar at $1.30 and also flat against the euro at £1.12.

Finals
Avacta Group
Baillie Gifford Japan Trust                 
Ferguson
Revolution Bars Group
SCS Group

UK Economic Announcements
(09:30) PMI Construction

International Economic Announcements
(10:00) Producer Price Index (EU)

Columns of Note

Writing in the Guardian, Polly Toynbee sets out the conference speech she believes Theresa May should give. She suggests the Prime Minister's priority should be confronting the Brexit 'fantatics' within the Conservative Party head-on.

Alan Cochrane praises Ruth Davidson's focus on the union in his piece for the Telegraph. He also suggests that the Brexiteers will dominate the remainder of the Tory conference, despite his view that Boris Johnson doesn't know what he is doing.

Did you know?

Ordnance Survey defines grid reference SK 257 144, near the village of Coton in the Elms in Derbyshire, as the point furthest from the sea in Britain. 

Parliamentary highlights

TODAY
  
House of Commons
In recess until Tuesday 9 October
 
House of Lords
In recess until Tuesday 9 October
 
Scottish Parliament
Scottish Government Debate: Building a Social Security System Together: Co-designing the Social Security Charter

TOMORROW

Scottish Parliament
Portfolio Questions: Education and skills