When Jared O’Mara posted derogatory comments online about homosexuals and celebrities almost 15 years ago, I doubt very much that he anticipated such punishing consequences. Of course, O’Mara had probably not expected that he would become an MP, nor the likelihood of Guido Fawkes publishing screenshots of the remarks he made on internet forums between 2002 and 2004 – not that this excuses his behaviour in any way.
Ironically, O’Mara, who unexpectedly ousted former deputy prime minister and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg as the MP for Sheffield Hallam in June’s general election, was a member of the Commons Women and Equalities Committee – a position from which he has rightly resigned. He may yet be forced to step down as an MP, although his party colleagues have rallied around him after he reportedly delivered “a full and very personal apology” at a meeting of Labour MPs yesterday.
O’Mara is certainly not the first, and is unlikely to be the last, example of an elected official who comes to regret content posted online in years gone by. Currently, the average age of an MP is 50 years old, and whilst many will have Facebook accounts, few will have had their lives chronicled on social media in the same way that those in their thirties and below have done.
As more people of this age are elected to parliament, their social media accounts will serve as archives to be trawled for indiscretions. The end of school holiday to Magaluf, freshers’ week, Dave’s stag do, and that night that started off as a couple of quiet drinks but ended with tequila shots and a 4am kebab may all yield material that could prove embarrassing for future MPs.
However, drunken tomfoolery is one thing. Homophobic and misogynistic comments, on the other hand, are completely unacceptable. Something which O’Mara has learned the hard way.
President Xi Jinping has become China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong after his name and political thinking were added to the Communist Party’s constitution. At the closing ceremony of the 19th National Congress, it was announced that more than 2,300 delegates had voted unanimously to write Xi’s Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era into the party charter – giving him an elevated status amongst Chinese leaders. Just two others – Mao and Deng Xiaoping, the architect of China’s economic opening – have been honoured in such a way since the People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949.
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator has warned that the UK can expect a trade deal little better than the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) struck with Canada. Any EU-UK free trade agreement would be very different from the status quo and, like the Canadian deal, take years to negotiate, Barnier told a group of European newspapers. However, he did say he could envision a short transition period being agreed between the EU and the UK before March 2019 to ease the UK’s exit from the bloc.
In other Brexit news, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is reported to be furious over leaks from private talks due to fears that further hostility from Brussels could topple Theresa May.
The conviction rate for modern slavery stands at just 1.9%, according to an investigation by Sky News. A freedom of investigation request showed that across the 17 police forces which hold data on convictions, 1,265 slavery offences were reported but just 25 successful prosecutions in the last two years. Meanwhile, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has claimed police forces are failing victims of slavery, with cases being shelved prematurely, investigations delayed by months and clear signals of crime being missed.
Business & Economy
President Trump has said he will name his nominee to be the next chair of the US Federal Reserve very shortly. Trump is expected to make his decision – one which will go a long way to dictating his economic legacy - before departing on a diplomatic trip to Asia on 3rd November. The BBC looks at the candidates thought to be in the running and what each would bring to the role.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is considering “further action” against RBS over mistreatment of small businesses. According to an independent review, 92% of viable firms handled by the Global Restructuring Group (GRG), an arm of the state-backed bank which was supposed to help struggling businesses, suffered “inappropriate action” such as interest rates being raised or unnecessary fees.
In a landmark legal decision, Mark Johnson, a former top HSBC banker, has been convicted by a court in Brooklyn of defrauding a client in a $3.5 billion currency deal. Johnson, who was the bank’s head of global cash foreign exchange trading, faces 20 years in prison after being found guilty on nine counts. US authorities said Johnson exploited confidential information from Cairn Energy, the UK oil and gas company, which appointed HSBC to convert the proceeds of an asset sale from dollars to sterling. US prosecutors are now preparing for further trials following an investigation by the Department of Justice and UK authorities into manipulation of the forex market.
What happened yesterday?
It was a day of little movement on the FTSE 100 as the UK’s main share index closed the session at 7,524.45 points – an increase of just 1.22 points.
GKN was the biggest gainer, climbing 5.14%, due to rumours that the engineering group is considering splitting into two separate aerospace and automotive companies. However, the current share price of 319p is still below its price two weeks ago after the company issued a profit warning.
Mediclinic International, the healthcare equipment and services provider, was the day’s biggest faller, dropping 2.65% after Spire Healthcare rejected its takeover bid. Shares in FTSE 250-listed Spire subsequently jumped 15.19%.
Elsewhere, Spanish stocks underperformed the rest of Europe amid continued tensions between Madrid and Catalonia. Meanwhile Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose for a record 15th consecutive session following Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s thumping election victory over the weekend.
On the currency markets, the pound fell 0.04% against the dollar to $1.3183 but gained 0.26% against the euro to €1.225.
Bloomsbury Publishing, Whitbread
Brooks Macdonald Group, Mcbride, Premaitha Health, Oil & Gas Development Company Ltd GDR (Reg S)
MHP S.E. GDR (Reg S)
Hemogenyx Pharmaceuticals, Kin Group
Anglo American, Bunzl, Carpetright, International Personal Finance, Shoe Zone
Columns of Note
In the Financial Times’ Big Read, Zelda Perkins, who worked as an assistant to Harvey Weinstein at Miramax 20 years ago, recounts her experience of sexual harassment at the hands of the disgraced producer and the subsequent legal proceedings to Matthew Garrahan. Perkins criticises the use of non-disclosure agreements as part of financial settlements, which she argues has led to sexual harassment and assault claims remaining secret for so long.
Writing in The Telegraph, Lord Hague responds to Alastair Campbell’s article in The Guardian calling for Brexit to be abandoned. Hague expresses his own concerns about the UK’s withdrawal from the EU but argues that overturning Brexit would require another referendum which would be divisive and viewed by millions of ordinary voters as the political elite attempting to overturn their opinion. He asserts that the argument needs to be about how we best make Brexit work, rather than how we reverse it.
Did you know?
There is a website dedicated to keeping track of how many times President Trump has played golf since assuming office. According to trumpgolfcount.com, Trump has made 71 visits to golf courses since his inauguration, with the president confirmed as playing golf on at least 31 of those visits.
House of Commons
Oral questions - Treasury (including Topical Questions)
Legislation - Smart Meters Bill - 2nd reading - Greg Clark
House of Lords
Introduction: Baroness Fairhead
Current penalties and custodial sentences for animal welfare offences in England - Lord Allen of Kensington
Reducing the number of MPs to 600 - Lord Rennard
Discussions with the devolved administrations regarding Brexit - Lord Foulkes of Cumnock
Legislation: Financial Guidance and Claims Bill [HL] - Report stage (day 1) - Baroness Buscombe
Topical Questions (if selected)
Ministerial Statement: Delivering for Scotland’s British Sign Language (BSL) Communities: Launch of the BSL National Plan
Scottish Government Debate: Unconventional Oil and Gas
House of Commons
Oral questions: Scotland
Prime Minister’s Question Time
Opposition Day Debate: Social Care
Opposition Day Debate: Supported Housing
House of Lords
Official announcements relating to terrorism focussing on perpetrator's creed rather than their crime - Baroness Afshar
Protecting members of the armed forces from repeated inquiries into the same incident - Lord Trefgarne
Legislative arrangements giving rise to the Register of Hereditary Peers who wish to stand for election to the House of Lords - Lord Grocott
Armed Forces (Flexible Working) Bill [HL] - 3rd reading - Earl Howe
Air Travel Organisers' Licensing Bill - Report stage - Lord Callanan
European Union (Approvals) Bill - 2nd reading
Portfolio Questions: Communities, Social Security and Equalities
Ministerial Statement: Common Agricultural Policy Convergence Monies due for Scottish Farming
Scottish Government Debate: Scotland and EU-UK Negotiations on EU Exit