29 March

Adam Shaw

29 March

Good morning,
 
The letter triggering article 50 and formally beginning the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union was signed by the prime minister last night. It will be delivered to European council president Donald Tusk by UK ambassador to the EU Sir Tim Barrow at 12.30 today, coinciding with Theresa May’s statement to the House of Commons.
 
Attention is now fully on the negotiation; positions and goals, which side has the upper hand, and the kind of deal we can expect. As she has done before, May will urge the people of the UK to unite behind her as she will “represent every person in the whole United Kingdom – young and old, rich and poor, city, town, country and all the villages and hamlets in between” during talks.
 
Her call appears to have fallen on deaf ears in the Scottish Parliament, as SNP and Green MSPs combined forces to win a Scottish Parliament vote 69-59, formally backing First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s call for a second independence referendum.
 
Theresa May is juggling a lot of balls. How long can she keep feeding the hardline Eurosceptics in her party while still carrying the pro-EU wing with her? And although she has insisted that now is not the time for a second Scottish independence referendum, it seems unlikely that she will be able to hold out forever – an informal campaign appears to have already begun. Not to mention the ongoing stalemate at Stormont.
 
All serious questions about the future of the country. Of course, according to the Daily Mail, these matters are subordinate to how her legs look…

 

NEWS

Donald Trump has signed an executive order reversing many of the climate change initiatives implemented by Barack Obama. Flanked by coalminers at the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, the president signed an order triggering a review of the clean power plan and to rescinding a moratorium on the sale of coalmining leases on federal lands.  Trump said the order represented a “new era in American energy and production and job creation”, while environmentalists branded it “dangerous”.

The US and UK ban on electronics being carried aboard flights originating in certain countries is not sustainable, according to Alexndre de Juniac, chief executive of the International Air Transport Association. Speaking in Montreal, he said the measures are “not an acceptable long-term solution to whatever threat they are trying to mitigate”.

A former Royal Marine sergeant who shot dead a wounded Taliban fighter is to be freed from prison within weeks after he was sentenced to seven years for manslaughter. Alexander Blackman was caught on camera shooting the prisoner at point-blank range and had been found guilty of murder in 2011. However, his conviction was downgraded to manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility due to psychiatric illness, with the judge, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, imposing a seven-year sentence, meaning that with credit for good behaviour, Blackman can expect to be freed in mid-April. (£)

 

BUSINESS & ECONOMY

The government will rule out selling Channel 4, keeping the broadcaster under state ownership following a lengthy review. Culture Secretary Karen Bradley is expected to address the issue in a speech at the Nations and Regions Media Conference in Salford today. However, she will announce a further review that will look at Channel 4’s commitment to the nations and regions, with the potential for relocation of some of its functions from London.

Samsung is to launch its latest smartphone today, six months after it was forced to withdraw its Note 7 handset from the market due to several units setting themselves alight. The recall is thought to have cost the South Korean manufacturer more than £3 billion and executives will be hoping that the Galaxy S8 performs well and restores the company’s reputation. 

Redrow has walked away from buying Bovis Homes, clearing the way for rival housebuilder Galliford Try to take over the under pressure Bovis. Both Redrow and Galliford had submitted offers with both rejected as “neither reflected the underlying value of the Bovis business”. Talks with Redrow were consequently terminated while discussions with Galliford are ongoing.

 

MARKETS

What happened yesterday
The FTSE 100 closed the day up 50 points at 7,343.42. Wolseley, the plumbing goods supplier, was the biggest gainer, finishing the day 5.57% higher thanks to a large reported increase in profits.
 
Tesco’s share price increased 1.25% after it announced that its subsidiary, Tesco Stores Ltd, had in principle struck a deferred prosecution agreement with the Serious Fraud Office over its 2014 accounting scandal. Tesco is set to pay a £129 million fine as well as £85 million in compensation to shareholders.
 
This agreement is still to be approved by the High Court and only covers Tesco Stores, not the larger international group Tesco PLC.

Finals
Alliance Pharma, Atlas Mara Limited (DI), Avengardco Investments Public Ltd GDR, BBGI SICAV S.A. (DI), Biome Technologies, Centaur Media, Cambridge Cognition Holdings, Entu (UK), Faron Pharmaceuticals Oy (DI), India Capital Growth Fund Ltd., Jackpotjoy, Johnston Press, Saga, Sanne Group, Summit Therapeutics, PJSC Centre for Cargo Container Traffic Transcontainer GDR (Reg S) BowLeven, Wolseley

AGMs
Adept4, Amino Technologies, Angus Energy, MCB Bank Ltd GDR (Reg S), St Modwen Properties

EGMs
Fair Oaks Income Fund Limited 

UK Economic Announcements
(08:30) Consumer Credit
(08:30) Mortgage Approvals
(09:30) M4 Money Supply

International Economic Announcements
(11:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US)
(14:00) Pending Home Sales (US)
(14:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)

COLUMNS OF NOTE

Writing in the Financial Times, former prime minister Gordon Brown says that the UK faces a constitutional choice post-Brexit; centralise repatriated powers in London or devolve them to the regional parliaments to create, potentially, a federal UK.

In The Guardian, Hadley Freeman examines the links between lone wolf assailants and domestic violence.  

 

DID YOU KNOW?

If humans had the same jumping ability as fleas, we’d be able to leap 400 metres – almost the same height as the Empire State Building.

PARLIAMENTARY HIGHLIGHTS

TODAY

House of Commons

Prime Minister's Questions

House of Lords

Reviewing legislation concerning spending rules in elections and referendums
-  Lord Rennard

When the Department for Culture, Media and Sport will announce its conclusions on the future status of Channel 4 -  Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury

Digital Economy Bill - Report stage (day 3) -  Lord Ashton of Hyde

Scottish Parliament

Portfolio Questions

Finance and the Constitution

Economy, Jobs and Fair Work

Scottish Liberal Democrat debate: Education

Scottish Liberal Democrat debate: Censure and Apology on the Anniversary of the Chinese Agreement


TOMORROW

House of Commons

Transport, including Topical Questions

House of Lords

Sharing sensitive personal information with other EU member states for the purposes of crime prevention and detection following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU -  Lord Paddick

Scottish Parliament

First Minister's Questions 

Ministerial Statement

Mental Health Strategy

Transvaginal Mesh Implants

Unconventional Oil and Gas

Enterprise and Skills Review