Theresa May left Berlin early yesterday as she knew her vote might be needed to get the Queen’s Speech passed and save her career. Much to the Prime Minister’s relief the Speech cleared the Commons but the government had to make a late pledge on funding abortions in England for women from Northern Ireland, amid fears of a Conservative rebellion.
Commentators suggest the government’s decision to give in could be a sign of things to come, and an indication of vulnerability.
The Labour party did not get away unscathed; three Labour frontbenchers have been sacked for defying Jeremy Corbyn by backing Chuka Umunna's amendment to the Queen's Speech calling for the UK to stay in the single market after Brexit. Staying in the single market is not Labour policy and Mr Corbyn had ordered his MPs to abstain - but 50 rebelled.
The Bank of England’s Chief Economist Andy Haldane has said that people in the UK feel “frustrated and squeezed” because pay has flatlined for a decade. He indicated that businesses had not invested enough to give the productivity improvements necessary to push up pay.
The retired judge heading the inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire, Sir Martin Moore-Brick, says he is “doubtful” the process will be as wide-ranging as some residents hope. Meanwhile documents viewed by the BBC suggest that cladding fitted to the Grenfell tower was changed to a cheaper, less fire -resistant, version.
KPMG has warned that big businesses need up to a year to prepare for new customs arrangements agreed during Brexit negotiations, to ensure that trade with the EU does not come to a halt. The time will be needed to design, build and test new systems, to ensure a smooth flow of trade.
BUSINESS & ECONOMY
UK Culture Secretary Karen Bradley indicated yesterday that she was likely to refer 21st Century Fox’s proposed takeover of Sky to Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority. She said Rupert Murdoch’s attempt to take full control of Sky would likely give him too much power over the UK Media and the political process. This will mean that the takeover attempt is likely to face further lengthy delays.
A survey of UK consumer confidence suggests it has fallen to the lowest level since the EU referendum last June. Researchers at GfK, which conducted the research on behalf of the European Commission, found the biggest drop was in people’s willingness to go out and spend money.
Industry regulator Ofgem has suggested that offshore wind power could turn out to be 25 per cent cheaper than energy drawn from Hinkley Point nuclear plant when subsidies are awarded to new projects this year.
What happened yesterday?
HSBC helped to lift the UK stock market for most of the day after the bank’s shares were upgraded by Morgan Stanley analysts. HSBC shares rose 4.2 per cent, making it the biggest riser on the FTSE 100. However, the index shed its earlier gains, closing down 37.48 at 7,350.32 points.
Mining companies were higher with shares boosted by rising metals prices.
Shares in Sky also performed well despite Culture Secretary Karen Bradley’s indication that she would be minded to refer the takeover deal to the competition authorities.
In international markets, a global sell off in the bond market spread to equities yesterday. The sell off triggered the worst one-day drop in European equities since September, and the biggest drop for the S&P 500 in over a month. Asian markets opened lower on Friday.
COLUMNS OF NOTE
The Financial Times unpacks the anatomy of the Grenfell Tower disaster by looking back through decades of British housing policy, pointing out where it has succeeded and where it has failed, and draws examples from history that have galvanised housing policy change.
Does diversity increase creativity? The Harvard Business Review looks at ways to get the best out of diverse teams at work. It recommends that good leadership and knowledge sharing across teams are key. While most of the discussions around diversity focus on demographic variables – for example age and gender – the article suggests that the most interesting aspects are psychological – including individual personality traits, motives and values.
DID YOU KNOW?
Tributes have poured in for Michael Bond, Paddington Bear author, who died this week. A little known fact is that Bond based the bear’s impeccable manners on his father. On family holidays on the Isle of Wight, he insisted on wearing his hat in the sea in case he needed to raise it to anyone.