While cannons were firing in Hyde Park to mark the birth of the new royal baby, over in Washington Emmanuel Macron was firmly parking his tanks on the UK’s more proverbial turf as he set out to establish the Franco-American ‘relation spéciale’.
Coming almost a fortnight after the two nations joined to undertake missile strikes in Syria, the French president arrived in the States for Donald Trump’s first ever official state visit. The US president quite literally rolled out the big guns for his French counterpart, greeting him with nearly 500 members of the United States Armed Forces as part of a welcome ceremony to kick off day two of a three-day summit.
At the ceremony, Trump spoke of "the beautiful friendship” between the two countries, with Macron returning the compliment of a friendship that has “constantly grown more solid”.
Things got a little more awkward later on in the day though when Trump, seated next to his companion in the Oval Office, trashed the Iran nuclear deal put in place by his predecessor, calling it “insane” and “a disaster”. Macron supports the preservation of the 2015 pact, illustrating just one of a number of policy issues that the two men disagree on.
However, as Macron and Trump dined on a menu of American cuisine with "nuances of French influence", other European leaders – including Theresa May - can only look on knowing that the relatively novice leader has stolen a march on them and a mix of flattery and tough talk has seen him take charge of Europe’s side of a power axis that for so long was held by the deep alliance of Obama and Merkel. The German chancellor will visit the White House on Friday knowing her country’s relations with the US have considerably weakened since Trump took office.
So as we enter the visit’s final day, all eyes are on the man dubbed ‘the Trump whisperer’ to see if he can sway the President towards Europe’s way of thinking on key issues and come away from this glitzy visit with more than a blossoming friendship and warm words. If he does, he’ll have pulled a major diplomatic rabbit from his hat, stealing the limelight from the First Lady’sheadline-grabbing headwear.
Britain is exploring the idea of producing its own satellite navigation system as a rival to the EU’s €10bn Galileo project, and the government has sought legal advice on whether it can reclaim the €1.4bn it has invested in the project since its launch in 2003. The development comes as the row over whether the UK can be trusted with Europe’s most sensitive security information after Brexit escalates, and represents the first practical consequence of Britain’s decision to leave the EU. (£)
Labour has said that dealing with complaints of alleged anti-Semitism was a top priority for the party’s new general secretary and would strive to settle the “vast majority” of outstanding cases by the end of July. Jeremy Corbyn last night met with the Jewish Leadership Council and the Board of Deputies of British Jews on Tuesday, with both groups concluding that the talks were a "disappointing, missed opportunity" and failed to agree a minimum plan of action.
Brexit has been blamed for statistics that show record numbers of nurses and midwives from EU27 countries quit Britain last year. The UK said goodbye to 4,000 nurses and midwives from European Economic Area in past year, with only 800 arriving and this has fuelled fears that the NHS’s already chronic staffing crisis could be deepening.
A federal judge has ruled that the US government must continue to accept new applicants for a programme that protects young undocumented immigrants known as “Dreamers” from deportation. The ruling is a blow for Donald Trump, who has attempted to abolish the programme. However, the judge called the Department of Homeland Security’s rationale against the programme “arbitrary and capricious.” (£)
BUSINESS AND ECONOMY
Whitbread has announced that it is to split off Costa, the UK's biggest coffee chain, as a separate firm, following pressure from activist investors. The demerger will take place “as fast as practical and appropriate" and Costa will be listed as a separate business. Attention now turns to Premier Inn, also owned by Whitbread, as it matures into another possible asset ripe for spinning off.
Shire, the FTSE 100-listed pharmaceutical company, has said it is willing to recommend a £46 billion offer from Japanese rival Takeda and has extended today’s deadline until May 8 to allow negotiations of a takeover to continue. Shire’s closed up 3.4 per cent at £39.30 yesterday following the news. (£)
Two thirds of a key council of employees at John Lewis has agreed to back Sir Charlie Mayfield’s “leadership and the continuing progress of the partnership”. The first secret ballot in more than a decade aimed to gauge the support of the chairman of the group, which consists of John Lewis department stores and Waitrose supermarkets, following a challenging year for the retailer. (£)
What happened yesterday?
The FTSE 100 closed 0.4% higher yesterday, outperforming its European counterparts. The blue-chip index was up 26.53 points at 7,425.40, having hit an intraday high of 7,439.58.
This was in contrast to European equities, with both the CAC 40 in Paris and the DAX 30 in Frankfurt ending the day down. The performance of the FTSE was in part thanks to strong gains by oil firms after the price of Brent crude continued to climb to highs last seen in 2015.
It was not such a good day for betting firms. News that Phillip Hammond, the chancellor, is leaning towards a £2 maximum stake limit for fixed odds betting terminals saw shares in Paddy Power Betfair fall at the close of trading, a trend seen by William Hill and GVC Holdings on the FTSE 250 market.
The FTSE 250 overall fell by 0.6%, or 121.06 points, at 20,195.31, and the AIM All-Share closed up 0.2%, or 2.45 points, at 1,042.40.
Keystone Law Group
Lloyds Banking Group
AIB Group, Allianz Technology Trust, British American Tobacco, BlackRock World Mining Trust, CLS Holdings, Croda International, Countrywide, Drax Group, Devro, EP Global Opportunities Trust, Franchise Brands, Global Invacom Group Limited (DI), Glanbia, Intu Properties, Mithras Inv Trust, Modern Water, Nichols, Polar Capital Global Financials Trust, Personal Group Holdings, Polymetal International, Persimmon, Sterling Energy, Tullow Oil
Int. Economic Announcements
(12:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US)
(15:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)
COLUMNS OF NOTE
Justin Webb, who presents the Today programme, reviews the presidential credentials of Nikki Haley in The Times. Through her steely performances as America’s ambassador to the UN, Webb says that support has swelled for Haley to challenge for the Republican nomination in 2020 and he thinks that it is a distinct possibility given Donald Trump’s growing legal perils and a sense of disorientation over domestic policy. (£)
The global diffusion of knowledge is an important benefit of globalisation and something that is in the interests of the west to promote, writes Martin Wolf in his latest FT column. Wolf assesses that flow of new ideas drives productivity and a world in which innovation is more widely shared is both inevitable and desirable and provides “a future that we ought to want”. (£)
DID YOU KNOW?
The world’s longest novel ever written is Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust, or A la recherche du temps perdu in its native tongue (French). The novel is estimated to have 9,609,000 characters.
House of Commons
Prime Minister’s Question Time
Section 5 of the European Communities (Amendment) Act 1993
House of Lords
Assisting high street retailers to prevent further closures and job losses - Lord Naseby
Action to promote freedom of religion or belief as part of the human rights agenda to be discussed at the Commonwealth Summit - Baroness Berridge
Gender pay gaps in academy schools and trusts - Lord Storey
European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – Report (day 3) - Lord Callanan
Justice and the Law Officers
Culture, Tourism and External Affairs
Stage 3 Proceedings
Social Security (Scotland) Bill
House of Commons
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (including Topical Questions)
Church Commissioners, the House of Commons Commission, the Public Accounts Commission and the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission
Debate on a Motion on Plastic Bottles and Coffee Cups - Mary Creagh
House of Lords
Identifying landlords who breach the 90 day restriction on short term lets - Baroness Gardner of Parkes
Enhancing the role of the Food Standards Agency after Brexit - Baroness Jones of Whitchurch
Continuing UK participation in the Galileo space project after Brexit - Lord Haskel
First Minister's Questions
Stage 3 Proceedings: Civil Litigation (Expenses and Group Proceedings) (Scotland) Bill
Appointment of Member of the Standards Commission for Scotland