23 April 2018

@Stu7Tay

23 April 2018

A Brexit showdown.
 
This is what the prime minister can look forward to this week as headlines this morning suggest another crunch meeting with her Brexit-supporting ministers is on the horizon, where it is expected that she will face pressure to scrap her plan for a customs arrangement with the EU.
 
Three ministers, namely David Davis, Liam Fox, and Boris Johnson, will lead the battle against May’s plan for Britain to continue to collect EU import tariffs on behalf of Brussels after Brexit; a proposal she sees as a compromise to solving the complexities surrounding the Irish border. First up will be Liam Fox, with the International Trade Secretary expected to say that a post Brexit Britain should “enjoy a new degree of economic agility” in a speech later today.
 
The prime minister has last week’s defeat in the House of Lords to thank for the discomfort she now faces. With peers voting in favour of staying in the customs union, a debate will now take place in the Commons on Thursday on the issue.
 
Although Thursday’s proceedings will be a largely symbolic and non-binding vote, it has triggered enough pressure on Downing Street to force it to restate its commitment to leaving the EU's custom union last night. May is likely to tell her MPs at the meeting on Wednesday that she needs room for manoeuvre and that her preferred option would provide this. Rebel MPs remain unconvinced, with former Welsh secretary David Jones calling the model a “byzantine scheme designed first to slow down Brexit and then to strangle it”.
 
With the Windrush scandal continuing to weigh heavily on her and her government, the last thing the prime minister needs is yet another Brexit flashpoint that threatens to undermine her authority. 

NEWS

EU funding will divert from central and eastern Europe to those hit hard by the financial crisis such as Greece and Spain under plans by the European Commission expected to be unveiled next month. The Commission’s draft 2021-2027 EU budget will signal a dramatic overhaul of the €350bn “cohesion policy” that aims to support less developed parts of the union. No longer will it be solely distributed on the basis of GDP per head but instead take account of a broader criteria covering everything from youth unemployment, education and the environment to migration and innovation. (£)
 
South Korea has silenced dozens of loudspeakers that broadcast propaganda along the border with North Korea, ahead of landmark talks later this week. Troops stationed along the border and civilians in the area can hear everything from K-pop music to critical news reports of the North. Seoul said turning them off would set the tone ahead of Friday’s meeting, though there has been no commitment from the North to do likewise with their own speaker system.
 
Carwyn Jones, Wales First Minister, has announced that he will stand down from his role in the autumn. Speaking at the Welsh Labour party conference in Llandudno on Saturday, the Bridgend AM, said the decision to resign from the role he has held since 2009 would give his family, his party and the country a "fresh start". Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford, widely tipped to take over the top job, said he was giving the matter "serious consideration".

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Fears of a trade war between China and US has eased after Beijing responded positively to plans by Steven Mnuchin, the US Treasury secretary, to visit the city for talks on trade and economic affairs. Mnuchin had said that he was “cautiously optimistic” of resolving the dispute between the world’s two largest economies.
 
Capita is looking to raise £701m after it announced its long-awaited rights-issue this morning. The news came as the outsourcing company revealed that pre-tax losses at the company increased to £513 million as underlying revenue fell to £4.2 billion. John Lewis, the turnaround specialist who was appointed chief executive last autumn, said the strategy aimed to “simplify and strengthen Capita”.
 
Google has come under fire for its attempts to preserve its profitable business model in the face of new European data rules. The search engine giant’s plan to protect an estimated $20bn of its targeted advertising through its handling of “third-party data” has been criticised for failing to match the spirit of the law, with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation coming into force next month. (£)

MARKETS

The week ahead
This week will see two of Europe’s most powerful leaders head Stateside, beginning with Emmanuel Macron today. The French president is expected to call on some of the goodwill he has built up with Donald Trump to ask the US president to ease sanctions on Russia amid concerns they are hitting European manufacturing activity, as well as ask that Europe’s waiver on steel and aluminium tariffs be extended. He will also address Congress on Wednesday before Angela Merkel visits Washington on Friday.
 
All eyes will be on the world’s biggest tech firms this week as they post their latest earnings reports. On Tuesday, Google’s parent company Alphabet kicks-off, followed by Facebook – no strangers to the media limelight in recent weeks - on Wednesday and Amazon and Microsoft on Thursday.
 
On Thursday the European Central Bank’s policymakers are expected to drop some of its crisis-era measures when it unveils its latest policy in Frankfurt. Finally, on Friday the latest figures for both UK and US GDP will be published.

Finals
Arix Bioscience
Dillistone Group         
Midatech Pharma

Interims
Utilitywise plc

AGMs
Bioquell
Foreign and Colonial Inv Trust
Globaltrans Investment GDR (Reg S)
Gotech Group
HGCapital Trust
Microgen
Silence Therapeutics

UK Economic Announcements
(11:00) CBI Distributive Trades Surveys

Intl. Economic Announcements
(14:45) PMI Manufacturing (US)
(15:00) Existing Home Sales (US)

 

COLUMNS OF NOTE

In his latest column in The Times, Kevin Pringle argues that a geographical as well as social division between classes remains a feature of much of urban Scotland. Citing the example of last week when some Giffnock residents objected on social media to the prospect of a Lidl store opening on the site of a former Whole Foods, Pringle says the idea that the attitude that sees “large numbers of our fellow citizens as lesser beings who should be kept out of mind by being kept out of sight” must be challenged. (£)
 
As the chancellor, Philip Hammond, prepares to publish a job advert in the summer for the next governor of the Bank of England, the Financial Times looks at the candidates in the mix to replace Mark Carney. (£)

DID YOU KNOW?

A record 18 MPs took part in yesterday’s London Marathon. The fastest ever MP to run the course was Matthew Parris, with the former Conservative MP finishing in an impressive 2 hours and 33 minutes back in 1985. 

PARLIAMENTARY HIGHLIGHTS

TODAY

House of Commons

Oral questions
Defence (including Topical Questions)

Legislation
Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Bill - 2nd reading

House of Lords
 
Oral questions
Plans for the administration and distribution of the children’s Contestable Fund - Baroness Benjamin
 
Care Quality Commission’s report 'The state of care in independent online primary health services' - Baroness Wheeler
 
Appointment of the new Chair and members of the Social Mobility Commission - Lord Lennie
 
Government progress in rolling out Universal Credit - Baroness Sherlock

Legislation
European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – Report (day 2) -  Lord Callanan
 
Scottish Parliament

No business scheduled

TOMORROW

House of Commons
Oral questions
Justice (including Topical Questions)

Legislation
Financial Guidance and Claims Bill [Lords] - remaining stages
 
Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill - money resolution

Westminster Hall debate
Street Homelessness - Adam Holloway

House of Lords

Oral questions
Processes by which Israel might be held accountable for its treatment of the inhabitants of Gaza - Lord Hylton
 
Encouraging the adoption of artificial intelligence in the NHS - Lord Holmes of Richmond
 
Integrated Communities Strategy green paper and schools - Viscount Ridley
 
Increasing the contribution made by the voluntary sector to the delivery of probation services - Lord Ramsbotham

Scottish Parliament

Scottish Government Debate: National Plan for Gaelic