20 March

Lyle Hill

20 March

The Labour Party again descended into open warfare over the weekend, when the Observer obtained tapes showing Momentum leader, Jon Lansman, admitting that the grassroots organisation would formally link with the union Unite if Len McCluskey wins the general secretaryship.

Never a group that likes to sit silently, this did not go down too well with the more outspoken members of the Labour PLP. Tom Watson, the deputy leader of the party, openly called out Lansman on Twitter last night, saying: “You’ve revealed your plan. If you succeed you will destroy the Labour Party as an electoral force. So you have to be stopped.”

Meanwhile, the object of much of Momentum’s fury, a certain Tony Blair, was once again doing the Sunday rounds. Appearing on The Andrew Marr Show to promote his new think tank, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, the former prime minister was once again arguing the need to fight“frightening authoritarian populism” using a “progressive centre”.

With Momentum so strongly represented in the Labour Party and clearly attempting to consolidate its power, Blair continuously had to fend off rumours that he is considering forming a new party. Instead, it looks more likely that attempts at rebuilding a strong “centre” will be done outside parliament.

As if to prove the point, Blair was conspicuous in his praise of George Osborne’s new role as the editor of the London Evening Standard, saying George was a “highly capable guy” and that his position would make politics “more interesting”. As if it wasn’t interesting enough already.

 

NEWS

Director of the FBI, James Comey, and the NSA’s Admiral Mike Rogers, will today speak at a rare open session of the Congressional Intelligence Committee. They are expected to face tough questions on potential links between Russia and Donald Trump’s election campaign. This will be a rare chance for Democrats to openly question Comey, who many believe cost Hillary Clinton the election.

The Institute for Government think tank has warned that Brexit will place a “huge burden” on parliament, as more than 15 new bills could be required in order to finalise the process. The think tank argues that new bills will be needed to establish new policies in areas such as customs and immigrations. According to the IFG, the process “will leave very little space for non-Brexit related legislation”.

Theresa May will begin her four nation tour in Wales today, meeting Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones. The tour is designed as an opportunity for the prime minister to engage with the devolved nations before triggering Article 50. However, she faces a stern warning from Jones, who predicts that Westminster will replace Brussels as the source of people’s frustrations if she does not engage and listen to the devolved governments.

 

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Vodafone has confirmed this morning that it has struck a deal to merge its Indian operations with its local rival Idea Cellular. The deal will create one of the world’s largest telecoms groups, with a combined value of more than $23 billion. The combined group will be India’s largest mobile operator, with almost 400 million users and 35 per cent market share of mobile users. (£)

Uber president, Jeff Jones, has left the company after less than six months in post. The announcement is another hit to the company which has been faced with a number of high profile scandals over recent months. His resignation was apparently “completely unexpected”. Sources inside the company claim his resignation came because Uber was hiring a new chief operating officer and he was not among the candidates. Others say he left due to Uber’s continued struggle with issues around sexism.

The CityUK lobby group of senior finance chiefs is preparing to launch a fresh round of appeals to government in an attempt to lower taxes and loosen regulation as part of the Brexit deal. The group argues that this will allow the UK to renew its advantage in financial services. Miles Celic, chief executive of TheCityUK, argued: “There is absolutely no appetite for a regulatory bonfire, but there is space for a tonal shift”. (£)

 

MARKETS

Finals

Frenkel Topping Group, JKX Oil & Gas, John Laing Infrastructure Fund Ltd, Maintel Holdings, MD Medical Group Investments GDR (Reg S), One Media IP Group, Real Estate Investors, Satellite Solutions Worldwide Group

Interims

Diurnal Group, Volution Group (WI), Finsbury Food Group

UK Economic Announcements

(11:00) CBI Industrial Trends Surveys

Int. Economic Announcements

(07:00) Producer Price Index (GER)

 

COLUMNS OF NOTE

Kevin Pringle, writing in The Sunday Times, argues that before the people of Scotland cast their votes in a second independence referendum, they should use the time they have before Brexit to find areas of agreement. He argues that Scotland is doing many things well, but can always do better. This, in his view, should be the substance of the independence debate.

Iain Martin, writing in Reaction, pays a fitting tribute to Chuck Berry, who sadly died on Saturday. The article provides a background to Berry’s work for anyone unfamiliar, and gives an insight into the man himself. Martin concludes by saying: “He was the man. Not a nice man, it seems, but one of the greatest artists of his generation.”

 

DID YOU KNOW?

Woodrow Wilson was the first sitting president of the United States to travel to Europe. He spent nearly seven months in Europe after World War I (interrupted only by a brief 9-day return to the US).

 

PARLIAMENTARY HIGHLIGHTS

TODAY

House of Commons

Oral Questions

Education, including Topical Questions

Legislation

Prisons and Courts Bill

Select Committee

1:15pm — Scottish Affairs — Oral Evidence Session

Inter-governmental co-operation on social security

2:00pm — European Scrutiny — Oral Evidence Session

EU-UK relations in preparation for Brexit

House of Lords

Oral Questions

Government’s programme for negotiating the UK’s exit from the EU — Lord Spicer

Assessment of recent developments in Syria — Baroness Cox

Legislation

Digital Economy Bill — Report stage (day 2) — Lord Ashton of Hyde

Scottish Parliament

No business scheduled.

TOMORROW

House of Commons

Oral Questions

Health, including Topical Questions

Debate

Fuel poverty

House of Lords

Oral Questions

Public health in Occupied Territories of Palestine and international action to keep Gaza Strip habitable — Lord Hylton

Short Debate

European Union Select Committee Report: ‘Brexit: Gibraltar’ — Lord Boswell of Aynho

Scottish Parliament

Scottish Government Debate

Scotland’s Choice