In the end, it was ‘The Art of the Deal’ that clinched it. But not from the man you might be expecting.
The US Senate voted last night to end a government shutdown following a significant bipartisan agreement to lift a barrier on federal funding in return for promise of a vote on the future of 700,000 young immigrants known as the Dreamers. The ‘continuing resolution’ now keeps the government funded until 8 February, allowing hundreds of thousands of federal employees to return to work today, and providing breathing space in the hope that Congress can reach a longer-term agreement.
Not a phrase often uttered in the halls of Washington but Chuck Schumer, the Democratic minority leader in the Senate, pointed out that that this was an achievement all of Congress’ making: “The great dealmaking president stayed on the sidelines”.
True to form, President Trump was in no mood for building bridges. The president took to Twitter to crow to supporters that the Democrats had “caved”and in a fundraising email, vowed to seek revenge in midterm elections later this year. “We will never forget the names of EVERY single liberal obstructionist responsible for this disgusting shutdown, and we will work to FIRE them come November”, he wrote. Tough stuff.
But it is worth pointing out that the president has little excuse. Whilst his predecessor may have struggled under the pressures of a split Congress, Trump has both a Republican House and Senate at his disposal. That a shutdown wasn’t initially avoided is testament to the divisiveness of his politics.
Both Democrats and Republicans will now give themselves a hearty pat on the back before the next big battle, and perhaps rightly so. This was a rare glimmer of bipartisanship in an age of ‘every man for himself’.
Trump, it seems, hasn’t quite got the memo.
Boris Johnson is expected to call for a further £5 billion annual investment in the NHS when Britain leaves the EU in 2019. Speaking to cabinet later today, the foreign secretary will make the demand as reports highlight that winter flu is running at seven times the usual annual rate in some areas, and in an appeal to combat Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party. The figure would represent a further £100 million per week, some way short of the £350 million promised by Johnson’s Vote Leave during the Brexit referendum campaign.
Seven senior party officials have resigned in response to Henry Bolton’s refusal to resign as UKIP leader following criticism of racist comments made by his girlfriend, Jo Marney. Former leader Nigel Farage has supported Bolton’s position as leader, and his commitment to “clear the swamp” through reform of the party’s constitution, warning that if UKIP doesn’t change, “it will not exist in 18 months time”.
Turkey has intensified its offensive on the Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin in northern Syria yesterday, outraging Turkey’s international allies. The Kurdish forces, known as the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, had been backed by the United States in the battle against ISIS, putting the US at odds with a decision by its NATO partner Turkey to pursue the territory.
Vice president Mike Pence has announced the US will move its Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem before the end of 2019. The date is earlier than had been expected after President Trump’s statement last month that Jerusalem was Israel’s true capital, threatening to intensify tensions with Palestine.
Business & Economy
The proposed takeover of Sky by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox has been found not to be in the public interest, according to a provisional ruling by the Competition and Markets Authority. The takeover was deemed to afford “too much control over news providers across all media platforms, and therefore too much influence over public opinion and the political agenda”.
The International Monetary Fund has upgraded its global growth figure this year to 3.9 per cent, representing the “broadest… synchronised surge” since the financial crash. Speaking at the opening to World Economic Forum in Davos, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde pointed to Present Trump’s decision to lower US corporation tax and rapid expansion in European and Asian markets. A slowdown of 1.5 per cent growth is expected in the UK this year.
Bookmakers are considering legal action against the government following reports that ministers have decided to cut the maximum stake on betting machines from £100 to just £2. A government review process, which closes today, had anticipated a cut in the maximum stake to an amount between £2 and £50 with ministers reportedly seeking the toughest possible measures and defying industry expectations.
Netflix has grown its market value to greater than $100 billion for the first time, as investors responded to news that the US streaming service had tripled its profits and gained 2 million more subscribers than expected in the fourth quarter. Its shares peaked over $248 in US trading, a jump of 9 per cent in a single day, representing a 53% rise year-on-year.
What happened yesterday?
The pound has undergone a quiet rejuvenation of late, trading at $1.40 by the close of play yesterday – its highest since the 2016 Brexit vote. The currency has benefitted from optimism in Westminster following French president Emmanuel Macron’s suggestion that the UK might be able to negotiate a “bespoke” trade agreement with the EU. The pound was also up 0.49% on the euro, trading at €1.14.
The buoyancy of the currency market was not mirrored by the FTSE 100, however, which closed down 15.35 points at 7,715.44. Barclays was the day’s biggest riser, up 4.3 per cent to 209.2p on that news that Tiger Global, the US hedge fund, is holding an undisclosed 2.5 per cent stake in the bank.
At the other end of the scale, bookmakers suffered on reports that the government will cut stake limits on fixed-odds betting terminals to just £2 per spin. William Hill was down 11.6 per cent to 297.2p, whilst Paddy Power Betfair was down 3.52 per cent to 8,275p.
Harwood Wealth Management Group
IG Group Holdings
Mitchells & Butlers
Brown (N.) Group
DP Eurasia N.V. (DI)
Pets at Home Group
UK Economic Announcements
(09.30) Public Sector Net Borrowing
(15.35) CBI Industrial Trends Surveys
Columns of Note
Writing in The Herald, Chris Deerin comments that French president Emmanuel Macron has provided a enviable model for how Western politicians should carry themselves in the era of mass, individualised democracy. Proving himself to be multilingual, direct and personable following his appearance on the Andrew Marr show, Deerin argues that Macron’s style is an effective antidote to populism in France, and predicts he may set a precedent.
Looking ahead to Donald Trump’s appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week, Prof Lawrence Summers of Harvard University questions what he might say. Writing in the FT, Summers suggests Trump – however unlikely – should say as little as possible to demonstrate how the US can remain a predictable, and so reliable partner to the global economy.
Did you know?
House of Commons
Justice – including Topical Questions
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Pedicabs (London) – Paul Scully
Nuclear Safeguards Bill – Remaining Stages
Telecommunications Infrastructure (Relief from Non-Domestic Rates) Bill – Consideration of Lords Amendments
Funding for the treatment of children diagnosed with Neuroblastoma – Kwasi Kwarteng
House of Lords
Fortification of flour with folic acid to reduce pregnancies affected by neural tube defects - Lord Rooker
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
Laser Misuse (vehicles) Bill [HL] – Committee stage – Baroness Sugg
Problems faced by museums and galleries in England – Lord Cormack
Report from the European Union Committee ‘Brexit: the Crown Dependencies’ - Lord Boswell of Aynho
Finance and Constitution Committee Debate
European Union (Withdrawal) Bill LCM – Interim Report
Condems Unpaid Trial Shifts – Rona Mackay
House of Commons
Prime Minister’s Question Time
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Bill under S.O. 23 (details to be provided) – Alan Brown
Opposition Day Debate – Subject to be announced
South Eastern rail franchise – Matthew Pennycook
House of Lords
Safeguarding children who are not attending school - Lord Storey
What analyses the Government have carried out of the effect of the UK economy of the potential outcomes of the Brexit negotiations including (1) leaving the single market, (2) leaving the customs union, and (3) leaving the EU with no deal, on the future trading relationship between the UK and the EU; and when they intend to publish those analyses - Lord Strasburger
Hong Kong’s autonomy, rights and freedoms - Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon
How many prisons have been given action plans, or are in special measures, following inspection reports - Lord Ramsbotham
Asset Freezing (Compensation) Bill [HL] - Committee stage - Lord Empey
Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill [HL] - Third reading - Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Secure Tenancies (Victims of Domestic Abuse) Bill [HL] - Committee stage - Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth
Ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water in developing countries - Lord Cameron of Dillington
Health and Sport
Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party Debate
Adverse Childhood Experiences – Gail Ross