27 June

@Stu7tay

27 June

Good morning,

Tensions between the US and Syria escalated further overnight after the White House reported that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria appears to be preparing another chemical weapons attack.
 
Delivering a statement that caught several military officials by surprise, Donald Trump’s press secretary said they had identified "potential preparations" by the Syrian government that echoed those made before a chemical attack in April. That action killed dozens of Syrians, including children, and President Trump warned that Assad would pay a “heavy price” if his regime went through with the plot.
 
The decision to accuse Assad publicly is an unusual approach, with the New York Times speculating that the intelligence gathered would normally be considered classified, given its nature. However, the statement may be an indication of the seriousness of the threat and, therefore, a pre-emptive attempt to defuse the risk of Assad giving the go-ahead for a further attack on his own people.
 
What is in less doubt is that the latest development is likely to further increase the tension between the US and President Assad's ally, Russia. Only last week the Kremlin warned the US-led coalition that it would consider its aircraft as targets in the Middle East after the US shot down a Syrian military plane.
 
In six years of civil war in Syria, 300,000 people have died and the conflict has so far created more than five million refugees. We can only hope that this latest intervention succeeds in preventing those grim tallies from increasing further.

 

NEWS

Opposition parties have branded the £1bn deal between the Democratic Unionist Party and Theresa May’s minority government as a "a bung" and "shabby”. Labour said the deal would undermine trust in the UK Government over Northern Ireland. However, the Conservatives said the agreement would make a return of the power-sharing executive in Northern Ireland more likely.

The Supreme Court yesterday ruled that significant parts of Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban should be allowed to take effect, a decision that the US President has described as “a clear victory for our national security”. The ruling means that for 90 days, travellers from six mainly Muslim countries will be unable to enter the US unless they have an established relationship with the country, either through a relative, job or college. (£)
 
The Queen is to receive an eight per cent increase in her income from public funds. The Sovereign Grant, which pays for the salaries of her household, official travel and upkeep of palaces, is to rise by £6m in 2018/19 to £82.2m. The news comes after the Crown Estate posted a £24.7m rise in profits, to £328.8m, in 2016/17.

An administrative error that saw thousands of patient records in NHS England put into storage is likely to have affected more than 1,700 patients. Among the notes that went missing included cancer test results, child protection notes and medication advice.

 

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

The Government’s proposals on EU citizens following the UK’s exit from the European Union lacked clarity and would lead to a new administrative burden, business groups have said. Tim Thomas, director of employment and skills at the EEF, which represents manufacturers, said Theresa May’s announcement last week “will do nothing to ease the uncertainty of EU nationals and their employers”. (£)

Arconic, the US firm that supplied cladding used on London's Grenfell Tower, has said it has discontinued global sales of the product for use in high-rise blocks. Shares in the firm fell 11.3% at the opening of New York trading following the announcement.

Pension talks between the Co-operative Bank and its backers have resulted in a deal being “substantially agreed”, allowing the troubled bank to halt plans for its sale. The Co-operative group and the hedge funds that own 80 per cent of the bank have agreed a £700 million rescue which will see the two shareholders split the Group’s pension scheme. (£)

 

MARKETS

The conclusion of an agreement between Theresa May’s government and the DUP after two weeks of negotiation gave the pound a marginal boost yesterday as it rose 0.1% against both the dollar and the euro.
 
The FTSE 100 also saw an increase, closing 23 points up at 7,446.80, a rise of 0.31%. The biggest climber was the UK's largest hospitality company, Whitbread, owner of Costa Coffee and Premier Inn amongst others, which saw shares rise by 2.17%.
 
Mining stocks were amongst the biggest fallers yesterday with Fresnillo, Antofagasta and Randgold all seeing their shares tumble.

Finals
BCA Marketplace, Carpetright, Findel, IG Design Group, Northgate, Photo-Me International, Polar Capital Holdings, ULS Technology

Interims
Benchmark Holdings, Lakehouse, Blue Prism Group, Porvair, Velocity Composites

AGMs
Augean, British American Inv Trust, Coretx Holdings, Defenx, Echo Energy, Gaming Realms, HydroDec Group, JZ Capital Partners Ltd, Mereo Biopharma Group, Nature Group, Regal Petroleum, Rhythmone, Sovereign Mines of Africa, Watchstone Group

UK Economic Announcements
(11:00) CBI Distributive Trades Surveys

 

COLUMNS OF NOTE

The lack of credible alternatives to replace Theresa May is likely to keep the prime minister in place, according to Janan Ganesh in today’s FT. Ganesh argues that this kind of self-interest leads not to the right decision, but the only decision. (£)
 
Dr Graham Gudgin, chief economic adviser at Policy Exchange, argues in City AM that Treasury reports have considerably over-estimated the cost of Brexit to the UK economy. Referring to a report published today by Policy Exchange, Gudgin says they estimate that per capita GDP could be two per cent lower by 2025, but by 2030 would be higher than it would have been without Brexit.

 

DID YOU KNOW?

The world’s deepest underwater postbox is located in Susami Bay in Japan, and is said to lie at a depth of 10 metres below the surface. The idea came into being in 1999 as part of an effort to attract attention to Susami Bay. And it’s worked, clearly. 

 

PARLIAMENTARY HIGHLIGHTS

TODAY
 
House of Commons
 
Oral questions
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, including Topical Questions
 
Debate on the Address
Education and Local Services
 
House of Lords
 
Oral questions
Legislation to ensure civil society plays a meaningful role in the democratic process - Lord Rooker
Coroner’s recommendations following the inquest into the 2009 Lakanal House fire - Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb
Reduction in the number of nurses registering to work in the UK in the year since the referendum on leaving the EU - Lord Hunt of Kings Heath
 
Debate on the Address
Home affairs, justice, constitutional affairs, devolved affairs, communities and local government - Baroness Williams of Trafford, Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth
 
Scottish Parliament
 
Topical Questions
 
Ministerial Statement: NHS Ayrshire and Arran Maternity Services, Healthcare Improvement Scotland review of adverse events
 
Stage 3 Proceedings: Railway Policing (Scotland) Bill
 
Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body Motion on the Appointment of a New Scottish Information Commissioner
 
TOMORROW
 
House of Commons
 
Oral questions
Northern Ireland
 
Prime Minister's Question Time
 
Debate on the Address
Health, Social Care and Security
 
House of Lords

Oral questions
Measures to combat terrorist and extremist propaganda released through multimedia channels - Lord Naseby
Introduction of the government's industrial strategy - Lord Haskel
 
Debate on the Address
Exiting the European Union - Baroness Anelay of St Johns, Lord Keen of Elie
 
Scottish Parliament

Portfolio Questions
Communities, Social Security and Equalities

Scottish Government Debate: Education Governance Next Steps