Will it be ‘Hell week’ or ‘Super Tuesday’ for Theresa May? It’s the question dominating the papers this morning as the prime minister begins another crunch week in her premiership.
May is fighting for control of the Brexit process, the fate of which will be decided in a Commons showdown tomorrow with a series of crucial votes that could change the path of the UK’s exit from the EU. The most notable amendment - tabled by Labour MP Yvette Cooper - would see Article 50 extended by up to nine months unless the prime minister secured a deal by the end of next month. The Times reports this morning that, were the Cooper amendment to pass, Conservatives who have so far been loyal to May and her plan will instead back alternative plans for a softer Brexit.
A fortnight on from suffering the biggest government defeat in history, losing this bank of support would strike a severe blow to the Prime Minister, who is running out of time to secure the concessions she needs to deliver a deal that can navigate through parliament.
It wouldn’t be a Monday without Boris Johnson thinking that he has all the answers to come to the PM’s rescue and unlock the stalemate; this morning is no different. He uses his Telegraph column to call for the PM to convince the EU to amend the text of her agreement to include an expiry date for the backstop, or include a "freedom clause" that will allow the UK to unilaterally withdraw from it.
The problem, as we are all well aware, is that the Irish government and EU27 as a whole are opposed to such a significant change, and have reiterated this after Johnson’s intervention. As far as they are concerned ‘nothing has changed’.
Away from Westminster, businesses continue to step up their preparation for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. The Times reports that business groups including the Federation of Small Businesses and CBI met with the banking industry as they prepare to issue emergency Brexit advice to small and medium-sized companies. This has been borne out of fears that there could be a significant increase in demand for loans, including from companies that have never approached a lender before, and that disruption at ports could leave companies running into short-term financial troubles.
The aviation sector is also in the spotlight, with the European Parliament leading negotiations to relax rules that threaten the flying rights of airline groups in the event that a deal for an orderly Brexit fails to materialise. If the MEPs succeed, it will mean ‘limited’ air traffic can continue between the EU and the UK.
For the business community, Super Tuesday is looking more like a sideshow with all focus on the 29 March and beyond. In Downing Street, the PM has yet another Manic Monday to get through first.
The US has warned Venezuela that any intimidation against American diplomats or opposition leader Juan Guaidó would be "a grave assault on the rule of law" which will be met with "a significant response". The warning by John Bolton, the country’s national security adviser, comes days after the US and more than 20 other countries recognised Mr Guaidó as interim president as the political crisis in Venezuela continues.
Patients visiting a GP based on their Fitbit’s reading of their heart rate or blood pressure is adding strain to the health service, doctors have warned. A report into artificial intelligence by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges suggested that the rise of health apps could eventually leave hospitals overwhelmed and leave a “dystopian” scenario in which robotic systems would be capable of causing harm “at scale” throughout the NHS. (£)
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has warned social media firms that they face being banned if they do not tackle harmful content on their sites. It comes after 30 families blamed technology giants of having a role in their children’s suicides. The government will review content on suicide and self-harm when it produces a white paper on online harm. (£)
BUSINESS & ECONOMY
Flybe’s biggest shareholder has said that the time is right to evict Simon Laffin, the company’s chairman, after the board was accused of failing in duties to shareholders to properly pursue alternatives to the proposed sale to a consortium led by Virgin Atlantic. Europe’s largest regional airline is expected to issue a statement to the stock market today, confirming that Hosking Partners has requisitioned an extraordinary meeting for a vote. (£)
Marks and Spencer have begun preliminary discussions with online supermarket Ocado about a technology tie-in to use its robotic warehouses to pick and pack customers’ online grocery orders. The agreement is seen as a a sign that the struggling British retailer could see grocery deliveries as a way to regain lost ground as it cancels expansion plans and closes stores. (£)
Ambassador Zhang Ming, Beijing’s envoy to the EU, has hit out at the “slander” and “discrimination” faced by Huawei and other Chinese companies in Europe and warned that excluding China from 5G mobile projects would risk “serious consequences” for global economic and scientific co-operation. (£)
The week ahead
Although the US Federal Reserve has said that it will raise interest rates twice this year, it is not expected to be as soon as Wednesday when its policy-setting board conclude its two-day meeting. Instead, the Federal Open Market Committee will hold rates steady having raised them last month.
The US labor department will provide a picture of domestic employment with the release of the January jobs report this week, which are expected to show a gain of 160,000 jobs after a blockbuster December, when the economy added 312,000 jobs. If this prediction holds true, look out for the president welcoming the news on Twitter.
Towards the end of the week, China’s vice premier Liu He visits Washington as the two countries work towards a resolution of the US-China trade dispute. The US are confident that a deal can be struck before March, when US tariffs on $200bn of Chinese goods will be ramped up from 10% to 25%.
Finally, there are a number of big names announcing their corporate earnings this week. As well as Apple, other tech giants posting results include Samsung, Sony, Nintendo, Alibaba, Facebook and Amazon. Other notable companies this week include Royal Mail, Boeing, Shell, Pfizer and Danske Bank.
Paragon Banking Group
Petra Diamonds Ltd.(DI)
JPMorgan Chinese Inv Trust
Lowland Investment Co
ZCCM Investments Holdings 'B' Shares
Int. Economic Announcements
(09:00) M3 Money Supply (EU)
(10:00) Business Climate Indicator (EU)
(10:00) Industrial Confidence (EU)
(10:00) Services Confidence (EU)
Did you know?
Because Germany dubs Hollywood movies to their native language, for every Hollywood movie star there is an equivalent German voice actor who is used again and again in the same films as their counterpart.
House of Commons
Housing, Communities and Local Government (including Topical Questions)
Immigration and Social Security Co-Ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill - 2nd reading
House of Lords
Ensuring home care workers are paid the national living wage for travelling between appointments - Lord Wills
Findings of Ofcom’s investigations into the RT news channel - Lord Foulkes of Cumnock
Reforming sexual offences legislation - Lord Campbell-Savours
Commemoration of the bicentenary of the birth of Florence Nightingale in 2020 - Lord Crisp
Further debate for purposes of section 13 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 - Baroness Evans of Bowes Park
No business scheduled
House of Commons
HM Treasury (including Topical Questions)
Ten Minute Rule Motion
Smoking Prohibition (National Health Service Premises) - Tracy Brabin
Section 13 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018
House of Lords
Discussions with ministers and the heads of police forces about security issues relating to Brexit - Baroness Quin
Report by the Social Metrics Commission: 'A new measure of poverty for the UK' - Baroness Lister of Burtersett
Consultations on the operation of drones in UK airspace - Lord Balfe
Financial Services (Implementation of Legislation) Bill [HL] - Report stage - Lord Bates
Ministerial Statement: St John's Paediatric Services Update
Scottish Government Business: A Connected Scotland: The Scottish Government’s Strategy for Tackling Social Isolation and Loneliness
Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body Debate: Appointment of a New Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life