24 August

@SueArthur

24 August

Good morning, 

In the days before we all had mobile phones, I remember walking to the phone booth to obtain my exam results while away on holiday – and feeling a mixture of excitement and relief (English) and deflated (my maths papers I had worked so hard at revising for) as my marks were read out to me.  
 
So I have some sympathy for the more than half a million GCSE students who will receive their results this morning, after sitting what some experts say are the toughest set of exams since the 1980s.  This will be the first group in England to be marked under a reformed grading system for English literature, English language and maths, with more challenging content in each paper, leading head teachers to warn that these results cannot be compared to previous years.
 
In another education story this morning, the Home Office has announced a review of the impact international students have on the UK job market. The migration advisory committee will be asked to examine the effect that both EU and non-EU students have on the labour market and economy while in the UK, and will report back in September 2018. The Prime Minister has been determined to keep students within her “tens of thousands” migration target – a stance rejected by the majority of her cabinet.
 
The higher education sector is under significant pressure as a result of Brexit. By calling an investigation that that will paint a fuller picture of the contribution foreign students make to the wider economy, and gather reliable evidence, Amber Rudd will hope to build bridges with universities after years of toughening visa curbs on foreign students.

NEWS

20-year old Charlie Alliston, the cyclist who fatally crashed in to Kim Briggs in east London last year, has been cleared of manslaughter. However, he has been found guilty of the lesser charge of causing bodily harm by wanton and furious driving. Ms Briggs’ husband Matthew  has called for the law on cycling offences to be brought “into line’ with road vehicles.
 
Approximately 100 EU nationals were recently sent letters from the Home Office notifying them that they would be deported if they did not leave Britain within a month. The Home Office admitted these letters had been issued in error after one recipient publicised the details of her deportation warning on social media.
 
BBC Scotland’s Sarah Smith will take over from Andrew Neil as presenter of the BBC’s Sunday politics show. Ms Smith will host the programme when it returns from its summer break on 17 September.
 
In a bid to get the nation off the sofa, Public Health England has urged Britons to walk for ten minutes a day. This comes on the back of numbers which show that forty per cent of middle-aged people do not manage a ten-minute walk once a month.

BUSINESS & ECONOMY

The Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) statisticspublished yesterday show Scotland’s deficit fell to £13.3bn for 2016/17, from £14.8bn last year,  amid an increase in oil and gas revenues.  The deficit, at 8.3 per cent of GDP, is more than triple the UK wide proportional deficit of 2.4 per cent.
 
Advertising group WPP’s shares fell sharply yesterday on the back of its interim results, leading to the largest one-day drop in its shares since 1998. WPP warned that a slower growth world had contributed to markedly less pricing power for its major corporate clients, leading to a decline in advertising spend.
 
Dixons Carphone has warned that its annual pre-tax profit is now expected to reach between £360m to £440m compared to £501m in the previous financial year. It said that customers were not replacing their mobile handsets as quickly as they previously had because they had become more expensive.
 
Amazon shareholders have voted in favour of its plan to buy grocery chain Whole Foods for $13.7bn (£10.7bn).  The US Federal Trade Commission also cleared the deal on Wednesday.

 

MARKETS

What happened yesterday?
Advertising group WPP was the biggest faller yesterday after an 11 per cent drop in its share price. WPP’s challenges weighed on the sector, and ITV shares dropped 3.1 per cent to 162.2p.
 
Shares in lender Provident Financial recovered from being Tuesday’s biggest stock market loser, to gain 12. 1 per cent yesterday after its 66 per cent plunge the day before.
 
The FTSE 100 closed up 0.91 points or 0.01 per cent at 7,382.65, while the pound was down 0.3 per cent against the dollar at $1.2786 and down 0.63 per cent against the euro.
 
In the US, Donald Trump’s speech threatening to rip up the North American Free Trade agreement and shut down the government to secure funding for his Mexican wall put a dampener on stock markets, with the dollar weak against the euro.

COLUMNS OF NOTE

The Guardian publishes an extract from a lecture delivered by Jon Snow where he reflects on the Grenfell Tower fire and media’s role in society. He critically appraises the media’s lack of attention to social housing in the year after the EU referendum.  The fire has confirmed to him that media is firmly part of the elite.

The Conversation compares Trump to the traditional trope of the court jester. The court jester’s job is to use humour and mockery to ridicule societal norms – but the article suggests adopting this role does not work so well if you are State President. It advises opponents of Trump to “concentrate on achievable, serious goals, and refuse to get distracted by the absurd, surreal personality show with which their president is mocking them.

DID YOU KNOW?

The 62-year old Village Voice is ending the publication of its print edition. This marks the end of an era for one of the oldest US alternative weekly newspapers known for its crusading coverage of New York City politics and culture.