Politics is a fickle business. Before the snap election, less than a year ago, Amber Rudd was being touted for promotion, with reports that she was in line to replace Philip Hammond as chancellor of the exchequer had the Conservatives won a landslide. This was around the same time the prime minister trusted Rudd to represent the party in the leaders’ debates, after opting not to participate herself.
Late last night, it was announced that Rudd had resigned as home secretary, saying she “inadvertently misled” parliament over immigration removal targets. Cue many jokes about the government being “Rudderless”.
It’s hard not to have a degree of sympathy for Rudd, whatever your political persuasion. It is the scandal surrounding the Windrush generation which brought into sharp focus the way the Home Office has treated some immigrants. And the measures designed to create the so-called “hostile environment” were implemented in 2012, when Theresa May was home secretary. Therefore, Rudd was treading a fine line of trying to defend herself and her department without tarring the boss.
However, political opponents have little sympathy for the delicacies of a minister’s situation. They could smell blood and the pressure reached a tipping point yesterday.
The result is another multi-faceted headache for the prime minister, just days ahead of her next electoral test in local elections across England. Rudd was a well-liked member of the Cabinet, and widely considered highly capable and effective. But now she resides on the backbenches, another pro-EU former minister freed from the shackles of ministerial responsibility.
With Rudd out of the firing line, May also becomes the chief target for criticism relating to Windrush – a scandal that is unlikely to go away quickly or quietly.
Lastly, there’s the question of who replaces her as home secretary. Michael Gove is the bookies’ favourite. But he seems to be enjoying life at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid and James Brokenshire are other names that have been mentioned. However, any of those options would result in three of the four great offices of state (as well as Brexit secretary, which is a de facto great office of state) being held by men.
Step forward Karen Bradley?
Four people have been killed and eight wounded in two bombings in Kabul. According to reports, the first explosion, detonated by an assailant on a motorcycle, occurred in the Shashdarak area, close to buildings belonging to the NDS intelligence service and foreign offices. A second blast hit reporters and rescue workers attending the scene 30 minutes later. Agence France-Presse confirmed that its chief photographer in Kabul, Shah Marai, was one of those killed.
Eighteen people have been injured in a bus crash in Glasgow. The single-decker, operated by First Bus, overturned on the A814 slip-road, near the Clyde Tunnel yesterday evening. One person is reported to be in a critical condition and two others in a serious condition.
Lord Martin of Springburn, the former speaker of the House of Commons, died yesterday morning after a short illness. He was 72 years-old. Michael Martin was the member of parliament for Glasgow Springburn (latterly Glasgow North East) from 1979 until 2009 and served as speaker between 2000 and 2009. He was made a life peer in August 2009 as Baron Martin of Springburn and sat as a crossbench peer.
Business and Economy
Sainsbury’s and Asda may have to offload stores in order to win approval from the Competition and Markets Authority for their proposed £12 billion merger. The two companies currently operate more than 1,000 stores across the country and the tie-up would make the combined business the UK’s biggest grocer with nearly one-third of the market. Further details of the deal are due to be revealed later today.
Labour will today announce plans to cap the total amount that consumers can pay in overdraft fees or interest payments. The party is proposing that the Financial Conduct Authority extend the cap on payday lender charges, introduced in 2014, to also cover the cost of overdraft borrowing – a move they claim would save borrowers £233 million a year. John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, will say this will help those caught in “a vicious circle of debt”.
A year’s rent takes up every penny earned by full-time workers until the first week of May, according to analysis from the BBC. Someone earning £22,900 per year after tax – the average UK salary – would have to work 86 days just to cover rent in England – five more than in 2011. This compares with 79 and 71 days in Scotland and Wales respectively. Rising property prices have made it increasingly difficult to buy a home and the number of households privately renting stands at a 30-year high.
The week ahead
The big event this week are local elections in England, with all 32 London boroughs and 119 local authorities up for grabs. This time last year, the Conservatives won a resounding victory in UK local elections, however, analysts are predicting a tougher night this time around, with even Tory strongholds like Westminster and Wandsworth thought to be in danger of turning red.
This comes as the UK government faces the next round of Brexit talks on Friday.
On the economic front, the EU exemption from US steel and aluminium tariffs expires on Tuesday, with EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom working hard to agree a permanent exemption with Wilbur Ross, her US counterpart.
Meanwhile, it is widely expected that the Federal Reserve will leave interest rates unchanged at its meeting on Wednesday. However, investors will be assessing inflation figures and the prospect of further rate rises in the near future.
In company news, Apple, Tesla, Sainsbury’s, IAG and a number of pharmaceutical companies are amongst the organisations announcing results.
Diversified Gas & Oil, Interserve, Luceco, Randall & Quilter Investment Holdings (DI), Tanfield Group, Weiss Korea Opportunity Fund Ltd.
Image Scan Holdings, Up Global Sourcing Holdings
BBGI SICAV S.A. (DI), BGEO Group, Forbidden Technologies, Georgia Healthcare Group, Independent Oil & Gas, Minoan Group, Old Mutual, Symphony International Holdings Ltd., Greencoat UK Wind
International Economic Announcements
(07:00) Import Price Index (GER)
(07:00) Retail Sales (GER)
(09:00) M3 Money Supply (EU)
(13:30) Personal Consumption Expenditures (US)
(13:30) Personal Income (US)
(13:30) Personal Spending (US)
(14:15) Chicago PMI (US)
(15:00) Pending Home Sales (US)
Columns of Note
In The Sunday Times, Kevin Pringle looks back to a 1993 vote on the Mastricht Treaty, a previous occasion when the SNP did a deal with a Conservative government regarding the EU. He highlights that this did not work out well for the SNP and calls on Nicola Sturgeon to “stand on the mandate of Scotland’s 62% “remain” vote and campaign for another UK-wide referendum to reverse the boorach that is Brexit”.
In the Financial Times, Joshua Chaggin examines the outer-ring of London Tory seats which could represent Jeremy Corbyn’s path to 10 Downing Street. He uses the case study of Chingford and Woodford Green, currently held by Iain Duncan Smith, pointing out that the constituency’s demographic – an increasing number of metropolitan liberals pushed out of the capital, as well as traditional working class voters looking for change – gives Labour a chance in an area the party would not previously have considered winnable.
Did you know?
In October 1941, Lord Mountbatten, then a captain in the Royal Navy, visited Pearl Harbour and predicted that a Japanese attack on the naval base would bring the US into the war. His assessment was based on Pearl Harbour’s vulnerability due to a lack of aerial protection, Japan’s history of starting wars with surprise attacks, and the success of Britain’s surprise aerial attack on the Italian fleet at anchor in the Gulf of Taranto the year before. Mountbatten was proved correct less than three months later.
House of Commons
Oral Questions: Housing, Communities and Local Government (including Topical Questions)
Domestic Gas and Electricity (Tariff Cap) Bill - remaining stages
Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill [Lords] - consideration in Committee and remaining stages
Debate: Section 5 of the European Communities (Amendment) Act 1993
House of Lords
Impact of the benefit cap on child and family wellbeing - Baroness Lister of Burtersett
Attendance of UK executives at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum - Lord Balfe
Number of countries the Secretary of State for International Trade has visited since the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU - Lord Foulkes of Cumnock
Office of National Statistics figures and the Muslim population of England - Lord Pearson of Rannoch
Legislation: European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – Report (day 4) - Lord Callanan
No business scheduled
House of Commons
Oral Questions: Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (including Topical Questions)
Ten Minute Rule Motion: Road Traffic Offenders (Surrender of Driving Licences etc.) - Mr Alister Jack
Legislation: Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill [Lords] - remaining stages
Money Resolution: Prisons (Interference with Wireless Telegraphy) Bill
House of Lords
Swansea Tidal Lagoon - Baroness Finn
Non-disclosure agreements - Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws
Procurement of the Government’s fleet of vehicles - Baroness Randerson
Legislation: Financial Guidance and Claims Bill [HL] - Consideration of Commons Amendments - Baroness Buscombe
Topical Questions (if selected)
Scottish Government Debate: Success of the Commonwealth Games
Stage 3 Debate: Civil Litigation (Expenses and Group Proceedings) (Scotland) Bill