27 November

@stu7tay

27 November

Good morning,

Less than a week after the Chancellor delivered a rather glum set of growth figures in the Budget, the government will today set out its plan to turn around the country’s low productivity and boost UK industry following Brexit.

Ahead of the launch, Business Secretary Greg Clark said a new industrial strategy aimed at lifting economic growth was "even more important" given the UK’s impending departure from the EU. The strategy is expected to identify the key worldwide trends which the government believes the country needs to tackle to revive its flat-lining productivity, which will include technologies of the future such as artificial intelligence, driverless cars and drone-delivered goods. Other inclusions we are likely to see are investments in low carbon technologies and how we care for a population that is living for longer.

Pharmaceutical companies Qiagen and MSD, better known as Merck in North America, helped Theresa May get the strategy off to the perfect start by announcing their commitment of more than £1bn of investment in research hubs, a move that is likely to create up to 1,750 high-skilled jobs. The government said the announcement was "a huge vote of confidence" in its plans.

There was less of an assurance given to the Irish government yesterday when Liam Fox conceded that it will be “very difficult” to begin discussions surrounding a post-Brexit border with Ireland until the EU opens talks on the future trading relationship with the UK. The international trade secretary’s comments will likely further strain tensions between Downing Street and Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, who maintains that there should be no return to a “hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

With the date for the next meeting of the European Council just over two weeks way, the clock is ticking for Theresa May to resolve many of the critical issues that are currently holding back much needed progress in the talks.

News

Thousands of British tourists are stranded on the holiday island of Bali after the airport was closed amid fears of a major volcanic eruption. Indonesian authorities have raised the state of alert to its highest level over concerns that Mount Agung was to erupt imminently.

The NHS is planning to spend £20 million on a central cybersecurity unit that will use “ethical hackers” to probe for weakness in health service defences. The plan to boost online security aims to prevent future data breaches and will make the health service the third biggest public sector buyer of such protection in recent years. (£)

A report by the estate agent Savills has found that a shortage of affordable houses to buy or rent is causing almost 100,000 households in England being priced out of the property market. The research found the number of priced-out households had risen from its previous projection in 2015 of 70,000.

Business & Economy

Brexit and fears that Jeremy Corbyn could take power in a Labour government were the principal drivers behind a record number of entrepreneurs selling their businesses in 2016, according to a new survey. The Barclays Entrepreneurs Index found that 505 businesses were sold last year, which is a 28 per cent rise from the previous year and the highest level since the survey began in 2010. (£)

Financial services firms generated a record £72 billion in tax in the past year, fueling calls by the City of London Corporation for the sector to be protected during Brexit talks. The figure is up one per cent on last year and Catherine McGuinness, policy chairwoman at the City of London Corporation, said it showed “how vital it is to meet the urgent needs of the sector as part of negotiations”. (£)

The deputy director of the top US consumer finance watchdog has filed a lawsuit against Donald Trump to prevent the president putting an arch-critic of the agency in charge. Leandra English took legal action to prevent the White House installing Mick Mulvaney as acting director, who has previously described the agency as a “sick joke”. (£)

Markets

The week ahead

Following the huge discounts offered to consumers on Black Friday, this week begins with Cyber Monday, expected to be the busiest online shopping day of the year. Online retailers are expecting a rush of orders as people prepare for Christmas. 

This year is expected to be the largest Cyber Monday ever, with Adobe Digital Insights predicting a 16% year on year increase in sales, leading to $6.6 billion worth of purchases.



On Tuesday, the Bank of England will announce the results of its annual stress test for the main banks operating in the UK, which will take into account the outlook of these banks in a low growth and a low interest rate future.



To close out the week, the UK will release its latest set of migration figures on Thursday. This is perhaps the most politically sensitive data set that is released by the government, and the last set of figures in August were engulfed in Brexit debate. Those figures showed that net migration into the UK was at its lowest level in three years, as EU citizens left the country following the Brexit vote. It will be interesting to see if that trend continues on Thursday.

Finals
Patisserie Holdings, Cerillion

Interims
Kainos Group, Ramsdens Holdings, Trakm8 Holdings

AGMs
Manchester & London Investment Trust

GMs
Oxford Pharmascience Group

International Economic Announcements
(15:00) New Homes Sales (US)

Columns of Note

Writing in The Sunday Times, Kevin Pringle says "global Britain" should search the world to find good policy practice in other countries that they could replicate, beginning with the so-called “arc of prosperity” countries: Ireland, Iceland and Norway.

Paul Johnson, Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, writes in The Guardian that hard choices lie ahead if the government is serious about helping young homebuyers. To tilt help towards young housebuyers, Johnson says structural changes are needed, such as raising council tax for those in more expensive properties and cutting stamp duty for those buying £1 million-plus houses. The difficulty, he identifies, is that neither of these policies will be as popular as abolishing stamp duty for first-time buyers.

In The Times, Clare Foges says the Conservatives must reclaim its position as “the party of the rich” if it is to win the next election. Foges argues that it must address Labour’s narrative that all of Britain’s problems will be solved by squeezing wealthy individuals and corporations for more money, or risk handing the keys of 10 Downing Street to Jeremy Corbyn. (£)

Did you know?

Due to name confusion, staff of the Slovak and Slovenian embassies meet once a month to exchange wrongly addressed mail.

Parliamentary highlights

TODAY

House of Commons

Oral questions
Defence (including Topical Questions)

Debate
Continuation of the Budget Debate

House of Lords

Oral questions
Proposed Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill and the inclusion of measures to prevent violence against women and girls and measures to deal with perpetrators - Baroness Donaghy
Effectiveness of the processes enabling whistleblowers to come forward without adverse personal consequences - Lord Cromwell

Legislation
European Union (Approvals) Bill - 3rd reading - Lord Henley

Scottish Parliament

No business scheduled

TOMORROW

House of Commons

Oral questions
Treasury (including Topical Questions)

Debate
Conclusion of the Budget Debate

House of Lords

Oral questions
Addressing the concerns of the Care Quality Commission in its review of the particular difficulties faced by children and vulnerable young people in accessing mental health care - Baroness Wheeler
Improving air quality in Britain - Lord Dubs

Legislation
Telecommunications Infrastructure (Relief from Non-Domestic Rates) Bill - Report stage - Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

Scottish Parliament

Ministerial Statement
Refreshing Scotland’s Alcohol and Drugs Strategies

Scottish Government Debate
Making Scotland Equally Safe