It seems I missed a party last night. While I was at home in my PJs, sipping down what can only be described as a tankard of tea and trying not to fall asleep at 9.30 it was all kicking off in the Commons.
MPs were exuberant at the chance to vote on a string of amendments to Theresa May’s Brexit deal. But considering they basically took back zero control over the Brexit process, it appears that everyone got a bit over excited and let the opportunity slip through their fingers.
After the revelry, two outcomes became clear. Firstly, Mrs May was victorious – albeit by a majority of only 16 votes. Having been subject to widespread criticism over her Brexit approach, the Tories last night united around her pledge to go back to the EU and renegotiate “alternative arrangements” to the Irish backstop, while “the main rebel amendments were defeated”.
This was far from ideal for Mrs May of course; she must now trudge back to Brussels to dismantle the deal she worked tirelessly to put together. Preferably talks with EU leaders will culminate in a political summit to sign off a revised deal in two weeks, although this may prove impossible.
Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, is said to have insisted that the withdrawal agreement could not be reopened, while French president Macron said it was not “renegotiable”. Both sides have room for compromise, but the political appetite for it is meagre.
Putting the “alternative arrangements” onto paper will also prove troublesome for May, and then there’s the arduous task of actually passing it through parliament.
But MPs have now ramped up the pressure on the prime minister to avoid a no-deal Brexit. While Yvette Cooper’s plan to extend article 50 and delay the UK’s exit from the EU was defeated, Caroline Spelman’s non-legally binding amendment to “reject” the principle of no-deal passed by eight votes.
Parliament will get another say if all is not clear by the 14 February – in what is widely seen as a bargaining tool to ensure that ministers don’t resign over the defeated amendments. Until then, I’m quite glad to be home with my cuppa.
Snow showers and icy conditions have swept across the UK. Weather warnings are in place for large parts of the country and the Met Office has predicted as much as 10cm of snowfall on higher ground. Road and rail travel is expected to be disrupted and forecasters are expecting similar conditions until Friday.
Former Labour-MP Fiona Onasanya will try to stay on as an MP despite being given a three-month jail sentence for lying to avoid a speeding ticket. She is expected to remain in office and will continue to be paid her £77,000 salary while in prison.
Three men have been arrested on suspicion of murder following the death of a doorman at a New Year’s Eve party on Park Lane. Security guard Tudor Siminov was allegedly stabbed in the chest as he tried to stop a group of men from entering. The men, aged 25, 20 and 23 were arrested separately in the past 12 hours.
Business & Economy
Apple boss Tim Cook has hinted that it could lower iPhone prices in some places. The tech giant is facing falling sales, with revenue down 15 per cent in its latest financial quarter. Cook said the company had started to re-price its phones to protect customers from the impact of currency fluctuations, in the hopes of boosting sales.
According to allegations, the government had “day-to-day involvement and “strategic” control over the treatment of companies in the hands of RBS’ scandal-hit restructuring division. Oliver Morley, a property developer who is suing RBS, is considering taking legal action against the Treasury over its alleged role in influencing the aggressive tactics pursued by the bank. (£)
Norwegian’s ambitious launch of low-cost transatlantic flights in 2012 has put its finances under pressure. Since April last year, the airline’s share price has fallen 60 per cent as investors worry that the carrier has overstretched itself. The announcement this week of a vast rights issue confirmed their fears. (£)
What happened yesterday?
The FTSE 100 climbed yesterday, finishing up 1.3% after Theresa May reopened negotiations over the Brexit withdrawal agreement and amendments were considered that could potentially take a no-deal Brexit off the table. British American Tobacco plc was the big winner of the day, up 5.68% after investment bank Piper Jaffray upgraded its rating from “overweight” to “neutral”.
Likewise, the FTSE 250 had a good day, finishing 0.9% ahead. Vivo Energy had the biggest gains, jumping 8.4% to 135.5p.
Wall Street was steadier due a flurry of well-received earnings releases. This comes after a disappointing day on Monday as tensions continued to develop between the US and China after Washington filed more than twenty charges against technology firm Huawei. The S&P 500 was up 0.2% following the previous sessions drop of 0.8% caused in part by concerns raised by chip designer Nvida and construction equipment group Caterpillar over worsening outlooks for the Chinese economy.
In the currency markets the pound was flat against the dollar, down 0.10% at $1.31 following a rally this morning which saw it reach 3-month highs due. It was also flat against the euro, down 0.13% at €1.15.
Aukett Swanke Group
Low & Bonar
Best of the Best
Wizz Air Holdings
Henderson European Focus Trust
JPMorgan Indian Investment Trust
UK Economic Announcements
(00:01) BRC Shop Price Index
(09:30) Consumer Credit
(09:30) M4 Money Supply
(09:30) Mortgage Approvals
Int. Economic Announcements
(07:00) GFK Consumer Confidence (GER)
(07:00) Import Price Index (GER)
(10:00) Business Climate Indicator (EU)
(10:00) Economic Sentiment Indicator (EU)
(10:00) Industrial Confidence (EU)
(10:00) Services Confidence (EU)
(12:00) MBA Mortgage Applications (US)
(15:00) Pending Homes Sales (US)
(15:30) Crude Oil Inventories (US)
Columns of Note
Rachel Sylvester notes in The Times this week that there are two styles of political leadership – consensual and conflictual. Theresa May certainly falls into the latter despite being urged by none other than the Queen to seek unity and “common ground”. In her pursuit of a Brexit pure enough to satisfy Conservative hardliners, the prime minister has alienated half the country and deepened divisions. (£)
Writing in The Spectator, Gavin Mortimer sheds some light on the situation in France and the growing divide between the Yellow Vests and Red Scarves. The former wants to take back control from the EU and President Macron; the latter shares his vision for a common European budget, army and parliament. So, stuck somewhere between total harmonisation with the EU and Frexit is a compromise. But as it stands the fractures within French society are “regional, material, cultural and ideological” and the outlook for the future is gloomy. (£)
Did you know?
There's a mall in Moldova called Malldova.
House of Commons
Prime Minister’s Questions
Ten Minute Rule Motion
European Union (Requirements Relating to Withdrawal) - Dr Sarah Wollaston
Westminster Hall debate
World cancer day - John Lamont
House of Lords
Annual cost to the NHS of patients missing appointments with their GPs - Lord Dobbs
Concerns expressed by general practitioners that children and young people with mental health problems are unable to access NHS treatments - Baroness Tyler of Enfield
Ministerial Statement: Response to the latest EU Exit vote in Westminster
House of Commons
Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (including Topical Questions)
Business Questions to the Leader of the House of Commons – Andrea Leadsom
Settling the debt owed to the victims of the Equitable Life scandal – Bob Blackman
Sustainability of maintained nursery schools – Lucy Powell
State pension age for women born in the 1950s – Tonia Antoniazzi
House of Lords
Proposals for a review of the powers of the Lord Speaker – Lord Grocott
Progress made in implementing the female offenders’ strategy – The Lord Bishop of Gloucester
Restrictions on commercial companies seeking to digitally map towns and cities in the UK – Lord Fox
Long-term commitment to increased provision of social housing to help to reduce housing costs, homelessness and housing benefit expenditure – Lord Whitty
NHS Long Term Plan, and the case for a fully funded, comprehensive and integrated health and care system which implements parity of esteem, preventative health and standards set out in the NHS Constitution – Lord Hunt of Kings Heath
First Minister’s Questions
The Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Tapping all our Talents 2018 Progress Report of Women in STEM
Debate: Budget (Scotland) (No.3) Bill