22 January

@lyle_h_

22 January

Good morning,

The Sunday media was dominated by Emmanuel Macron's appearance on The Andrew Marr Show, not so much for the substance of the interview but for the French president's ability and willingness to engage with the questions posed to him in his second language. 

It was remarked that his performance was a breath of fresh air in comparison to many of our senior political figures. As Macron jetted back to his low domestic approval ratings, many in the UK would be forgiven for believing that the French don't know quite how good they've got it.

But as the new week begins, so do new headlines. Today, the British Army is dominating the agenda, as army chief General Sir Nick Carter is expected to give a speech warning that the UK is rapidly falling behind Russia in military and cyber-espionage technology. To combat this, he is calling for increased funding for the forces.

That type of appeal in itself isn't anything special or new. The head of the NHS makes speeches calling for more money, as do the heads of the police and fire brigade. 

However, it is notable that General Carter's speech has been approved by Gavin Williamson, and points to the new defence secretary attempting to assert his influence in Cabinet vis-a-vis the Treasury.

In other news, there is little doubt about what UKIP's position would be on army funding, but there is doubt about almost everything else in the party. Yesterday, its National Executive Committee voted for a motion of no confidence against the current leader, Henry Bolton, after racist remarks by his former girlfriend made front page news last week. 

This morning, the deputy leader Margot Parker resigned from her position, citing Bolton's refusal to step down as her primary motivation.

If Bolton does quit, it wouldn't be clear who could replace him. The party lacks any credible option as its poll ratings have tumbled in the wake of a string of failed leaderships. Perhaps Nigel Farage may think that the time is right for his third (or fourth) return to the leadership.

NEWS

The US government shutdown will continue today as compromise talks last night failed to reach a deal. A vote in the Senate has been postponed until Monday evening, after a rare weekend Senate sitting saw no breakthrough in talks. Democrats want President Trump to negotiate over his tough stance on immigration, while Republicans want funding for border security.

Turkish troops entered Syria yesterday in order to defeat a small pocket of Kurdish fighters who are supported by the United States. President Erdogan's forces were joined by troops from the former Free Syrian Army, the first rebel anti-Assad force, and pushed three miles into Syria. (£)

The SPD in Germany have voted in favour of holding coalition talks with Angela Merkel's CDU, paving the way for a negotiation that should lead to a fourth term for the German leader. The vote at the SPD party conference was tighter than expected, 362 of 642 delegates voted in favour, after student leaders mobilised the SPD grassroots against a deal. (£)

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Pro-Remain Cabinet ministers are thought to be urging the prime minister to consider Norway-style payments into the EU budget in order to secure a bespoke Brexit deal. The payments would help fill the expected €15 billion hole in the EU budget and could be transferred through various EU schemes. (£)

Lord Jim O'Neill, the former Conservative Treasury minister, believes that Britain should expect a far better economic performance in 2018 than many have predicted. The peer argues that the potential impact of Brexit on the UK economy will be dwarfed by the benefits of global growth in the world economy, as China, the US and Europe all show increased economic activity.

Social media companies are facing a crisis of trust in the UK, as findings in the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer show that fewer than a quarter of Britons trust the technology giants. In addition, 63% would back tougher regulation. The findings highlight that people believe the platforms are doing little to tackle extremism and cyber bullying. (£)

MARKETS

The week ahead

The finance ministers of the Eurogroup will meet today in Brussels. It will be the first time Portuguese finance minister Mário Centeno has taken charge of the group and members are expected to praise the efforts taken by Greece in its economic reform programme.

Netflix will also report its fourth quarter results today. Last year the numbers caused the group's shares to rise by over 50%, but this year Netflix will be looking to show more than just growth in subscriber numbers, but also profitability too.

On Tuesday, the 48th annual World Economic Forum will take place in the Swiss alpine resort of Davos. The theme of this year's event will be the future of global co-operation relating to trade, environment, the fight against terrorism, tax systems and competitiveness.

The event will be opened by prime minister Modi of India and will also feature a keynote speech by President Trump. His speech will be viewed closely, following his attacks on many of the globalist policies Davos is thought to represent.

On Wednesday, the UK will release its latest labour data, including employment figures, average earnings and productivity. Trends are expected to remain roughly the same as last month, but there is a sign of employment growth starting to turn down.

To close the week, but the UK and the US will release GDP figures on Friday. Growth in the UK is expected to have maintained its pace over the last three months, but in the US growth is expected to have cooled slightly.

Czech presidential elections will also take place on Friday, with the result a good bell-weather for pro-EU / Russian support in Eastern Europe. Pro-Russian incumbent Milos Zeman easily won the first round, but may well face a tougher fight against pro-EU challenger Jiri Drahos in a run-off.

Trading Announcements
Computacentre
Goals Soccer Centres
Revolution Bars Group
Safestyle UK

AGMs
Ixico

 

Final Dividend Payment Date
Cambria Automobiles
Proactis Holdings
 
Interim Dividend Payment Date
Bonmarche Holdings
Standard Life Equity Income Trust
Mobeus Income & Growth 2 Vct

COLUMNS OF NOTE

In the Financial Times Big Read, Jonathan Ford and Gill Plimmer look at the changing privatisation debate in the United Kingdom, as many in the country change their attitudes towards national ownership following years of privatisation of public assets.

Kevin Pringle, writing in the Sunday Times, discusses the attitudes and rhetoric used to describe unemployed people in society. He argues for not just a discourse that is kinder, but also empathy and individuality for people who find themselves in these circumstances.

DID YOU KNOW?

According to the Global Firepower index, the UK has the 38th largest army in the world in terms of active personnel. 

PARLIAMENTARY HIGHLIGHTS

TODAY
   
House of Commons
 
Oral questions
Housing, Communities and Local Government - including Topical Questions

Legislation
Financial Guidance and Claims Bill [Lords] - 2nd Reading
 
Adjournment
North West Ambulance Service - Tony Lloyd
 
House of Lords

Oral questions
Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Alma-Ata Declaration on primary health care - Lord Crisp
Reviewing the legality of non-disclosure provisions in settlement agreements - Baroness Stowell of Beeston
Reviewing the law governing the naming of deceased individuals against whom criminal allegations have been made - Lord Lexden

Short debate
Progress in establishing the role of the Small Business Commissioner and supporting small and medium-sized enterprises - Lord Mendelsohn

Scottish Parliament

No business scheduled.


TOMORROW

House of Commons

Oral questions
Justice - including Topical Questions

Legislation
Nuclear Safeguards Bill - Remaining Stages
Telecommunications Infrastructure (Relief from Non-Domestic Rates) Bill - Consideration of Lords Amendments

House of Lords

Oral questions
Robberies and assaults by gangs on scooters or mopeds - Lord St John of Bletso
Supporting sustainable public services and good governance in sub-Saharan Africa - Lord Bruce of Bennachie
Government support for Palestinian refugees following the decision by the US to cut funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East - Lord Judd

Short debate
Problems faced by museums and galleries in England - Lord Cormack
Report from the European Union Committee 'Brexit: the Crown Dependencies' - Lord Boswell of Aynho

Scottish Parliament

Finance and Constitution Committee Debate
European Union (Withdrawal) Bill LCM - Interim Report

Members' business
Condemns Unpaid Trial Shifts - Rona Mackay MSP