24 March

Susan Arthur

24 March

It was a sobering day yesterday as tributes were paid to PC Keith Palmer who lost his life in the terrorist attack in Westminster on Wednesday and the other victims of the tragedy who came from all over the world.

Police have named the attacker as British, 52-year old Khalid Masood, originally born Adrian Elms. He was a criminal with a 20-year record of offending who had once been investigated for extremism but was assessed as low risk. Islamic State was quick to claim responsibility for the attack in a statement that was issued in Arabic, French and German as well as English.

Addressing a vigil in Trafalgar Square last night, London Mayor Sadiq Khan honoured the dead and injured. He also said the gathering should send “a clear, clear message – Londoners will never be cowed by terrorism”.

The sense that the city has come together amidst adversity was echoed in the messages of support seen across London’s Tube Stations. Tower Hill station, a short distance from where the attack took place, had the following quote: “The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of them all. #LondonIsOpen #Westminster #WeAreNotAfraid."

News

Belgian police and soldiers foiled a suspected terrorist attack in Antwerp yesterday when an armed Frenchman drove his car at speed towards a crowd of shoppers. No one was hurt.

Donald Trump has hit a speed bump in his plans to overhaul Obamacare. In an unusual move he has now given Republicans an ultimatum - if they don't pass his healthcare bill, he'll leave Obamacare in place, as is. He made the ultimatum after abandoning talks last night, a planned vote on the health care bill was scrapped because it remained short of votes. He faces the prospect of losing one of the most consequential votes in his time in office. Trump’s team had hoped to pass the proposed American Health Care Act, or “Trumpcare”, yesterday.

Business & Economy

Royal Bank of Scotland is cutting around 690 jobs and closing 180 UK and Irish branches as it seeks to cuts costs after nearly a decade of losses. RBS will close 128 NatWest branches and 30 RBS outlets in the UK, and 22 at Ulster Bank in the Republic of Ireland.

More than half of the investors in FTSE 250 housebuilder Crest Nicholson have opposed proposals for lucrative share awards to the company’s executive team, in the first outright defeat of company plans this year. This comes in a year when three quarters of FTSE 100 companies are due to renew pay policies – we can expect more opposition as yesterday’s events signal a new wave of shareholder revolt.

The latest UK retail sales figures show that UK shoppers started spending again in February after two months of falling sales. Sales volumes grew by 3.7 per cent in comparison to February 2016 – beating analysts’ expected figures of 2.6 per cent.

Markets

Markets are in recovery mode after a sharp drop midweek, recording the worst one-day fall for the S&P 500 index since October. Divisions within the US Republican party over plans to repeal Obamacare spurred concerns amongst investors that the President may struggle to get other pro-business policies passed. The S&P 500 closed 0.1 per cent lower on Thursday night.

Asian stock markets have continued to recover after a midweek sell-off.

The FTSE 100 was up 0.22 per cent, ending a two day losing streak, recording a drop after Wednesday’s Westminster terror attack. The FTSE 250 was up 0.9 per cent to 19,002.27.

Finals 
Henry Boot, Concurrent Technologies, Frontier Smart Technologies Group ltd, Lamprell, PJSC Magnit GDR

Interims 
Smiths Group

UK Economic Announcements
(09:30) BBA Mortgage Lending figures

International Economic Announcements
(12:30) Durable Goods Orders (US)

Source: FTSE100, The Financial Times

Columns of Note

We normally recommend print reads here – but for something different, why not listen to the Radio 4 series “Can the Centre Hold?”. Mary Ann Sieghart follows elections in Stoke, France and the Netherlands, and speaks to politicians from across the world who have thrived in the political centre, about its future.

The Telegraph interviews Tomotaka Takahashi, one of Japan’s leading experts on robotics, on the feasibility of having robot ‘servants’ in our homes and businesses. Takahashi has created the “Robi” humanoid robot, which has sold 150,000 units worldwide so far and is the bestselling of its kind so far produced.

Cartoon Source: The Telegraph

Did you know?

Today is Red Nose Day, held to raise money for the Comic Relief charity. The first Red Nose day raised £15 million on Christmas Day in 1985.

Parliamentary highlights

 

TODAY

House of Commons

Business

Consideration of Private Members' Bills

Legislation

Malicious Communications (Social Media) Bill - 2nd reading - Anna Turley 
EU Citizens Resident in the United Kingdom (Right To Stay) Bill - 2nd reading - Tom Brake 
Mutualisation of the Royal Bank of Scotland Bill - 2nd reading - Gareth Thomas 
Sugar in Food and Drinks (Targets, Labelling and Advertising) Bill - 2nd reading - Geraint Davies

House of Lords

No business scheduled

Scottish Parliament
In recess

MONDAY

House of Commons

Select Committees 
Public Accounts - Oral Evidence session: BBC Licence Fee

House of Lords
Oral Questions 
Encouraging gene editing in agriculture and medicine - Viscount Ridley

Legislation 
Technical and Further Education- Report stage - Lord Nash

Scottish Parliament
In recess