It wasn’t only the death of our national reputation for composure unfolding in parliament that gave me a creeping sense of dread last night. Instead, with one eye on writing this morning’s briefing, it struck me how many newsworthy stories would fail to win any bandwidth in today’s papers. Not to discredit the importance of the day’s politics (more on that later), but I get the sense it’s made us a nation of lazy news consumers.
Because, as UK government sits on its hands, the world is quite literally burning. A new climate survey released this morning by the world’s energy watchdog, the International Energy Agency, has shown that global CO2 emissions have risen to their highest-ever levels. Due to a 2.3% surge in demand on the back of extraordinary weather and economic need, global emissions totalled 33 billion tonnes last year, up 1.7% on the figure for 2017.
To show what that means in case the numbers don’t hit home, the Guardian reports on a discovery by Australian researchers of huge melted pools of water underneath east Antarctica’s largest glacier. Using explosives to create an echo underneath the 30km-wide Totten glacier, scientists approximated that the glacier alone had the potential to raise sea levels by seven meters if it were to melt completely. Their verdict? That climate change is to blame.
Or take for example, news from Germany exposed in the Bild newspaper that the country’s wealthy Reimann family has made a surprise charitable donation of $11 million after learning of their ancestors’ involvement in Nazi atrocities. Famous as the name behind brands including Rimmel, Pret a Manger and Krispy Kreme, unearthed documents revealed that the Reimanns had in fact used Russian civilians and French POWs as forced labourers for up to 30% of its workforce, also donating large sums to the SS. In a laudable moment of humility for a global business organisation, the family simply said, “There is nothing to gloss over. These crimes are disgusting."
So whilst the latest political wrangling plays out on our screens over the coming days, spare a thought for what pressing news we might be missing. Whilst only a snippet, these stories remind us that politics should be there to serve the greater good and the world isn’t waiting for Brexit.
The House of Commons has passed an amendment which will see it vote on various ways forward for Brexit as it takes effective control of government process on Wednesday. The Letwin amendment was passed by 329 votes to 302 and will initiate a process of ‘indicative votes’, letting MPs vote on a serious of proposals which are likely to include the prime minister’s deal, membership of the EU customs union and single market, and a second referendum in order to break the parliamentary impasse. Thirty Conservative MPs voted against a three-line party whip, including three government ministers have resigned in order to vote for the amendment.
The Pentagon has authorised $1 billion for reinforcements to the US-Mexico border as the first funds mandated by US government after a national emergency was imposed in February. The funds will be used to build about 57 miles of 18 foot-high “pedestrian” fencing on the border despite continuing protests that the motivations of President Trump are unconstitutional.
The Mexican government has demanded an apology from Spain and the Vatican for human rights abuses committed during the conquest of the region from the fifteenth century onwards. Newly-elected Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the indigenous peoples of Mexico had been victims of a massacre. Spain has so far rejected the call and called for a “constructive perspective”.
Business & Economy
Apple has unveiled a new streaming service and credit card at its latest keynote event in San Francisco. The streaming service Apple TV+ is set to be backed by new content produced by the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Stephen Spielberg and is intended to challenge Netflix and Amazon Prime. The Apple Card will be launched in the US this summer in partnership with Mastercard and Goldman Sachs and will offer at least two per cent cashback on all purchases.
Sports Direct has floated the possibility that it could make an all-cash takeover bid for Debenhams in order to prevent the department store from falling into administration. In a late stock exchange statement, Sports Direct said its bid sought to run Debenhams for the benefit of “all” stakeholders, rather than existing lenders. Debenhams shares closed at 1.55p yesterday, valuing the remaining 61% stake not currently owned by Sports Direct at £13.5 million. (£)
A UK tech entrepreneur, Mike Lynch, has been accused of committing “deliberate fraud” against Hewlett-Packard when it bought the Cambridge-based software firm Autonomy for $11.1 billion in 2011. Speaking at the start of the UK’s biggest civil fraud trial in the High Court yesterday, representatives from HP said that Lynch – who denies the allegations – had artificially inflated reported revenues and profit margins. HP is seeking around $5 billion in damages.
What happened yesterday?
German growth figures did little to ease anxiety on the London market yesterday as looming Brexit votes weighed on both the pound and stocks. By close of trading, the FTSE 100 was down 0.42% at 7177.59 points, alongside a drop of 0.3% in the price of sterling against the US dollar at $1.32 and 0.30% on the euro at €1.16.
In Germany, the latest Ifo business confidence survey showed a rating of 99.6 (when 100 denotes growth), which was ahead of analyst expectations. Data released last week for the eurozone’s flagship economy showed German manufacturing contract for the third month in the row, which has since impacted continental markets.
Back at home, car manufacturer Rolls-Royce (down 1.00%) fell as its San Francisco-based activist investor ValueAct Capital Management cuts its stake in the company to 9.48% from 10.94%. Doorstop lender Provident Financial (down 0.73%) also fell as it repeated its call to shareholders to reject a £1.3 billion bid from smaller rival Non-Standard Finance, and announced the appointment of a new MD at Vanquis Bank.
On the upside was Inmarsat (up 9.64%) whose shares surged on news that the telecoms group had agreed to be bought for $3.4 billion by a collection of Apex-owned private equity firms. Retailer Debenhams (down 2.64%) meanwhile suffered after Sports Direct criticised its decision to reject a bid for its Danish business, Magasin du Nord, before floating the possibility of a cash takeover bid later in the day.
Boku, Inc (DI) Reg S Cat 3/144A
Gulf Marine Services
Michelmersh Brick Holdings
Moss Bros Group
Personal Group Holdings
Crest Nicholson Holdings
Tritax Eurobox (GBP)
SK Telecom Co Ltd. ADS
UK Economic Announcements
(09.30) BBA Mortgage Lending Figures
Intl. Economic Announcements
(07:00) GFK Consumer Confidence (GER)
(12:30) Building Permits (US)
(12:30) Housing Starts (US)
(14:00) Consumer Confidence (US)
(14:00) House Price Index (US)
Columns of Note
A Times long-read by Oliver Wright charts the Brexit saga from the start to the moment MPs decided to wrest control of the process from government last night. He makes the point that for a mature democracy like the UK, although we are two years and nine months on from the vote, the fact we have no semblance of the eventual settlement is a gross failure of the political process.
Jim Armitage writes in yesterday’s Evening Standard to urge more blue-sky thinking to support the British tech industry in the wake of the Inmarsat sale. Due to the long-term planning required for satellite enterprise and a lack of interest from tech investors on the London Stock Exchange, Armitage suggests more private equity companies should look to the sector, likely to get a good deal (in the case of Inmarsat) in return for significant long-term growth potential.
Did you know?
House of Commons
Health and Social Care (including Topical Questions)
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Compensation Orders (Child Sexual Abuse) - Andrew Griffiths
Programme Motion / Consideration of Lords Amendments
Healthcare (International Arrangements) Bill (changed to Healthcare (European Economic Area and Switzerland Arrangements) Bill: Programme (No. 2) - Matt Hancock
Programme Motion / Money Resolution / Consideration of Lords amendments
Offensive Weapons Bill
Section 5 of the European Communities (Amendment) Act 1993 - Elizabeth Truss
Bereavement counselling - Matt Warman
House of Lords
Ensuring property guardians are legally protected - Baroness Grender
Review of the honours system - Baroness Berridge
Average time spent without appropriate Special Educational Needs support by students who have successfully appealed a decision to have an education, health and care plan - Lord Addington
The petition created by Margaret Anne Georgiadou to revoke Article 50 of the Treaty of the EU and to remain in the EU - Baroness Quin
Orders and regulations
Stage 1 Debate / Financial Resolution
South of Scotland Enterprise Bill
Financial Scam Prevention
House of Commons
Prime Minister's Question Time
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Sky Lanterns (Prohibition) - Ruth George
Draft Food Additives, Flavourings, Enzymes and Extraction Solvents (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 - Steve Brine
Draft Protecting Against the Effects of Extraterritorial Application of Third Country Legislation (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 - Dr Liam Fox
Draft Animal Health, Plant Health, Seeds and Seed Potatoes (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 - Michael Gove
Draft Regulatory Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 (Consequential Modifications) Order 2019 - David Mundell
Sustainability of community and sub-post offices - Gavin Newlands
House of Lords
Ensuring all alternative education providers are providing a quality education. - Lord Storey
Conservative Manifesto commitment to give a one-year National Insurance contributions holiday to firms employing those from disadvantaged groups - Baroness Burt of Solihull
Proportion of UK Export Finance’s expenditure on support for energy production was spent on fossil fuels and renewables - Baroness Sheehan
Decision by the National Portrait Gallery and Tate to forego the intended donations from the Sackler Trust - The Earl of Clancarty
Orders and regulations
National Health Service (Cross-Border Healthcare and Miscellaneous Amendments etc.) (EU Exit)
Regulations 2019 - Baroness Manzoor
Scottish Green Party Debate
Revoking Article 50
The Impact from Celebrity Endorsements of Diet Products