21 June 2018


21 June 2018

Good morning,

Yesterday, Donald Trump signed an executive order that he claims will end the separation of migrant families at the US-Mexico border, despite previous assertions from his party that only Congress could end the practice. President Trump and his vice-president Mike Pence stressed that the zero-tolerance policy would remain, meaning that anyone who crosses the border without the proper documentation will still be referred for prosecution and families may still be kept in cages.

Amid the widespread fury about children being torn from their parents, some voices in particular stood out – not least those of all the living first ladies. Rosalynn Carter, Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton (no stranger to criticising the president, of course) and Michelle Obama all spoke out publicly against the policy.
The statement that raised most eyebrows, however, was one from the current first lady, Melania Trump. On Sunday she said that she “hates” to see families separated and that she hopes both parties can come together to reform immigration law in America. This was an unprecedented intervention from a first lady who remains steadfastly silent on most issues – and sometimes invisible too.
Melania’s decision to break cover on this issue speaks to the horror and divisiveness of Trump’s border policies. As to whether her sartorial choices can be read as a statement about her husband’s policies, I don’t think it really matters. As long as these prominent figures use their words, if not their dress sense, to speak out against the cruelty of policies like these, there is hope yet that we are witnessing a shift away from apathy and towards compassion.


Theresa May avoided further embarrassment over Brexit plans yesterday, as pro-EU Tories announced that they would not be seeking a vote on their demands to have a say in the event that negotiations end in no deal. Minutes before the vote was due to be called, prominent Tory rebel Dominic Grieve announced he would not be supporting his own amendment. The Times reports that this was due to legal advice sought by the rebels from the Commons authorities.
There is a heightened sense of foreboding around Whitehall about President Trump’s visit to Europe next month as it is reported that he is preparing to meet with Vladimir Putin. The plans are adding to fears about Trump’s commitment to Nato and how this will affect his trip to Britain. The news came as it was claimed that Theresa May had questioned Britain’s tier-one military status, which is a key component of the relationship between Britain and the United States.
Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, has apologised to the families of those who died in Gosport War Memorial hospital after being given life-shortening opioid drugs they did not need. The families have been campaigning for two decades, but it is only now that the claims have been investigated and proven true. They said that they want those responsible “in the criminal court” to face prosecution for their damaging practices.


Business & Economy

Disney has raised its offer to acquire 21st Century Fox. The offer will now be worth $71 billion (£53.8 billion) in cash and shares, valuing the stock at $38 per share, a figure it says is “superior” to Comcast’s $65 billion cash bid. Disney and Comcast have been wrestling over Fox’s film and TV studio assets for months in a deal that would result in the ownership of US cable TV networks like FX and National Geographic, as well as Fox’s stake in Sky plc.
Tesla, the car manufacturer owned by billionaire Elon Musk, has filed a lawsuit against a former employee for sharing trade secrets with third parties. The suit alleges that the technician passed on photos and videos of Tesla’s systems after he was reassigned due to poor job performance, then subsequently fired when they found evidence of his wrongdoing.
IAG, the owner of British Airways, and low-budget airline Ryanair are gearing up to complain to the European Commission over air traffic control strikes which have led to 5,000 flight cancellations this year. IAG’s Vueling airline, based in Spain, has seen half of all its flights affected in 2018. They claim the commission’s failure to combat these strikes has breached freedom of movement in Europe, which some aviation lawyers have said is an unusual complaint, suggesting that it may be more to do with politics than the freedoms of the airlines’ customers.


What happened yesterday?
London stocks finished higher yesterday, with the FTSE 100 up by 0.31% to 7,627 and the pound up 0.22% higher against the euro at 1.1392. Just before midday, the European Commission announced €2.8 billion of rebalancing measures against US exports, which was followed by Beijing announcing a second round of counter tariffs against the US, all of which triggered selling.
Shares in house builder Berkeley fell by four per cent after the company released a profit warning. The housebuilder, which is based in London, says that the housing market in the city and the South East has been slow over the last year while building costs rose by four to five per cent due to an increase in the price of labour and materials.
A CBI survey released yesterday showed that UK manufacturing recovered in June, following three months of the slowest output for more than two years. The increased activity was led by food, drink, tobacco, and mechanical engineering, with 33% of manufacturers’ order books reported to be above normal.
In the US the markets were mixed, with the Dow Jones down 0.17% to 24,657 but the Nasdaq 100 up 0.73% to 7,280, suggesting that investors were less worried about the possible trade war between the US and China.


Dixons Carphone
Chemring Group
Trading Announcements
UK Economic Announcements
(09:30) Public Sector Net Borrowing
(12:00) BoE Interest Rate Decision
Int. Economic Announcements
(13:30) Continuing Claims (US)
(13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)
(13:30) Philadelphia Fed Index (US)
(14:00) House Price Index (US)

Aberdeen New Thai Iv Trust
Eden Research
EJF Investments Ltd NPV
Good Energy Group
Armadale Capital


Columns of Note

In the Financial Times, Philip Stephens argues that nationalism could engulf Germany if its politicians keep going in their current direction. He cites polls that suggest the public is skeptical of Angela Merkel’s open borders policy and highlight the support that has been thrown behind the interior minister’s anti-migrant position. Stephens asks the populists across Europe who are welcoming this change if they have thought hard enough about what a nationalist Germany could really mean.
In The TimesJenni Russell commends the French president for scolding a teenage boy who referred to him as “Manu”. She says that France’s motto of liberté, égalité, fraternité implies that respect must be earned and acknowledged and says that any similar exchange between a British politician and a member of the public would likely have led to a different public response. Russell argues that the British people lost faith (and respect) in elected representatives following the expenses scandal and there is a fundamental difference between the ways the French and British public regard the state and status. 

Did you know?

Less than 3% of the roads in North Korea are paved. There are about 25,000 kilometres of road in the country, but only 724 kilometres of it have been paved.

Parliamentary Highlights

House of Commons

Oral questions
Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Attorney General

Business Statement
Business Questions to the Leader of the House

House of Lords

Oral questions
Introducing an annual celebration of the anniversary of the arrival of the MV Windrush on 22 June 1948 - Baroness Berridge
Government support and representations to the organisers and Turkish authorities about the Pride March and celebrations in Istanbul in June 2018 - Lord Scriven
Benefits of yoga for obese school children - Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe
Applications to prescribe cannabis based medicines

Short Debate
Implications for the UKs future trade relations following the failure to reach agreement at the G7 Summit in Canada. - Baroness McIntosh of Pickering

Scottish Parliament

General Questions

First Minister's Questions

Scottish Government Debate; World Refugee Day: Supporting People to Settle in Scotland
House of Commons
No business scheduled
House of Lords
No business scheduled
Scottish Parliament
No business scheduled